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Victoria chapter - Welcome to 2019 vision for SWL, 28 February, Port Melbourne

Words Monica Brown Pics Anita Pahor

There was dancing at the first Society of Women Leaders Event of 2019, but more of that later.

Welcoming our new year ahead, Melbourne really delivered on our core values of philanthropy, friendship and fun, the fun bit was in abundance.   The delightful celebration was hosted by Larry Kestleman and SWL Chair Anita Pahor on Vegas, an incredible super yacht that is simply filled with love, joy and of course lots and lots of fun.  

It wasn’t a Members only event, so friends partners and guests were in attendance, therefore to start the evening, Anita took a moment to welcome all and explain SWL.  Her introduction not only described elegantly and eloquently (as always) what SWL stands for, but realigned all of hearts for the journey ahead this year. Anita spoke of our evolving relationship with the Red Cross and the opportunity to share our unique and united skill set.  Anita has recently launched the SWL Think Tank, where we will be able to contribute in an even more a strategic  way to assist the Red Cross with sustainable initiatives.   The first  SWL Think Tank will be the Milk Bank project, for which SWL has received 25 expressions of interest from members who want to be involved by either stepping up their financial contribution or support with their IP. I would just like to take a moment to realise the enormity of this subtle evolution.  By recognising the skills and talent of our sisterhood, we can use our collective experiences, from our world beyond SWL, to create a more strategic and evolving face of philanthropy.  We are bringing a very new energy to the humanitarian landscape and whilst funding of projects is essential and is at the core of what we do, we are very organically manifesting change in additional, permanent and powerful ways.  Interesting and courageous times ahead.

Anita then introduced SWL member Cate White who had travelled with some of our other sisters to the inaugural SWL international humanitarian mission trip, to remote East Indonesia.   The room hushed and there was a moment …. Whilst I think we all recognise that it is incredibly difficult to communicate the impact on the soul of such a trip, or to share the deep personal intimacy of the human connection experienced in a life changing journey,  Cate captured the energy perfectly.  We were all gifted a glimpse.  She spoke of one woman from the community who challenged what we do and whilst confronting,  by listening she learnt of issues not previously considered and what we need to do to help further. I loved that story the most because I felt the energy of that Indonesian woman, our sister and  in another life trajectory would have been a member of SWL Australia and she would have fitted right in. 

I had a friend join me that night, perhaps a potential new member and she sent this text afterwards,  “It’s really nice to see a group of highly intelligent women who can debate strategy in a board room and then be that close.  That’s how we roll.   You took us all with you ladies, all our love and our hearts were with you on that trip.   When you were met in those communities, when you sat at the table with ambassadors and dignitaries, we were all by your side.  Thank you. 

……and then we danced.  We loved, we laughed, we hugged and we danced.  We danced under the moonlight, Larry fired up the engines and we travelled through the bay overlooking the lights of Melbourne and we danced, in the heatwave, on a moving boat, we danced.  All ages, all capabilities and utterly inclusive….. for that is our beauty.

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul.  Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are great because of their passion”. Martha Graham