As usual the meeting today was very well organised at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury.It was a farewell event for Jean Morris, the BFWI chairman for the last 5 years. A sad day but she should be proud to be leaving the federation in such a healthy state. Bucks has gained 8 new WIs and the membership has risen by 7%. Finances are healthy and ambitious plans are in hand to celebrate our 90th anniversary at Waddesdon on 15 June 2015 at the same time as the NFWI's centenary.
The morning programme consisted of talks by Johnny Walker from Walkers Bulbs and the former Mayor of Amersham, Mimi Harker who not only speaks at breakneck speed but also lives her life in the fast lane. The following speaker was Jane Dixon, the Head of Denman College who announced the improving situation there from when she took up the challenge of becoming its principal.Everyone was moved by the talk and film presented by Patricia Pearce who described her setting up of Dreamflight, an organisation which gives a holiday of a lifetime in Florida for children with disabilities of various kinds. If we think offering a coach outing to our fellow members an onerous task fraught with problems, imagine loading an aircraft with all those wheelchairs and walking frames! The organisation relies almost entirely on charity donations and volunteers, several of whom are celebrities from the world of showbiz and sportsmen and women.
The afternoon programme brought the announcement of the new board of trustees and the presentation of prizes followed by a talk from Chris Beardshaw "100 Plants that almost Changed the World". He should really have come on April Fools' Day because his talk was an hilarious mixture of true and false information about the history of garden plants. The audience loved it and I imagine quite a few went home to look up exactly what was fact and what was fiction.We all emerged from the meeting saying how much we had enjoyed the whole day.
Members from my WI then went home to grab a quick meal before our monthly meeting which was very well attended. Our speaker was a local WI member whose daughter is involved in charitable work in Greece. She and her husband work with a rescue organisation called Encounter Compassion providing shelter for women who have been trafficked into prostitution and slavery.The title of the talk was "Human Trafficking:the Balkan Gateway". My word but this was strong meat: modern slavery amounts to 27 million poor souls--more than when the trans-Atlantic slave trade was in full swing. Children as young as 4 years old are sold into slavery, the average age for prostitution is 12 and life expectancy is 28 years old. The chances of being rescued are very slim but this organisation does all it can to bring the victims back into themselves and give them hope.The victims cannot often return home because their families if not guilty of actually selling them will be at risk from vengeful attacks for those rescued. Once more this work is dependent on charity. The NFWI in 2004 passed a mandate to try to outlaw human trafficking but I wonder how many members realised the size of the problem and the huge suffering involved.After this talk the members of our WI will certainly make people aware because they will not be able not to discuss it with others and they were keen to help financially with donations. A drop in the ocean but probably the best we can do besides keeping an eye out in local towns and cities for examples of the homeless and refugees who have been robbed of their papers and their identities and offer support against this inhuman trade.
I know we discussed other things like Gift Aid and the coming May Fair but I couldn't really concentrate for thinking of 4 year old children being kidnapped and young girls being lured away on the promise of a job and a better life.Just to cheer you up further there is a lucrative trade in stealing for organ donation as well.