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Philanthropy and fun

22 May 2019


Words: Monica Brown, Photos: Prada 


One of the enjoyments of SWL is our commitment to mixing philanthropy with great fun, sharing the joy of one another and our sisterhood. The Melbourne Prada social was one of those nights. It's tough not to enjoy the elegance of a Prada store, and with the added incentive of a percentage of funds from our purchases being donated back to SWL, for many it was a powerful incentive to shop. A huge thank you to Prada Australia Sophie Clark and her team led by the utterly fantastic Nigel Hime, store manager. A thank you also to Sydney member Rochelle Collis for introducing SWL to Prada in such an open-hearted way. The generosity did not stop there: the designer canap├ęs, champagne and cocktails kept our shopping spirits lively. 

And then that thing that always gives me goosebumps happened. When Sophie began to talk about the values of Prada, I could see precisely why we were there. The Prada family's commitment to humanitarian projects and philanthropy is impressive. The alignment was so much more than the surface glamour. 

As the event unfolded, we remembered why we come together as a group, we remembered why we were all there. Chairperson Anita Pahor talked of our strategic approach to philanthropy and how by deploying our resources in a targeted way, the cohort can grow in size and funds. We welcomed two new members on the night, Suzana Ristevski and Julia Thomas. It was both daunting and exciting to realise that we had raised more than 2 million dollars since our inception, and we were the fastest growing cohort in Australia. 

When our guest speaker took the floor, the room was silenced, and the importance of those funds became a reality. With the quiet dignity and practical sensibility that aid workers seem to possess, Kym Blechynden told us how and where our money was spent. The power of her words was not lost on us. Her stories of walking defenceless into conflict zones with no armed guards, working amidst cholera outbreaks, treating children with severe dehydration who had been travelling for several weeks with limited food and water... and all the time remaining impartial held us captive. 

One sliding doors story was the day 2 colleagues (from another aid organisation Kym was working for at the time) were kidnapped in northern Syria, she was en route and arrived there just 20 mins later, or it would have been her ... 20 minutes. And yet through all of this what she remembered were the moments of humanity. In the worst of times, she observed and recognised the precious beauty of humanity. Looking around that room, all I could see were the faces of humanity. Yes not everyone is made for the field and thank God for that because it takes a village right?

It is a great honour to watch women support one another, egoless and united in our objective. Combining each of our skill sets to bring safety, dignity and survival to our sisters and their children throughout Australia and the rest of the world, that is what we do at SWL.

From the outside, on a chilly dark Melbourne night, it was a glittering evening of fun at Prada, but inside those doors, lives were changing, and that ripple was being felt all over the world.

"You have to embrace the world if you want to live in it now”— Miuccia Prada