Connections Across Oceans

Former NSW & ACT State Commissioner from 2009–2014, and Member of Girl Guides for 31 years, Belinda Allen OAM, shares a story of friendship and connections across oceans. Specifically, the Pacific Ocean which provides an incredible gateway from Australia to the Asia Pacific where many of our Girl Guiding sisters reside. 

In mid-June I was fortunate to visit the Cook Islands as part of a Rotary/UNICEF team for the Rotary Give Every Child a Future project. My husband James is the Rotary Project Director which aims to introduce 3 vaccines (Rotavirus, pneumococcal and HPV) into 9 Pacific countries. It will strengthen the health systems so the vaccines are imbedded into the regular immunisation programs. The program is well under way despite delays due to COVID. Almost US$4 million needed has been raised by Rotary. UNICEF is distributing the vaccines and training the locals to deliver the program. It has been a joint Australia and New Zealand Rotary project to celebrate their centenary in 2021. During our Cook Islands mission we visited clinics, a school and met with the Ministry of Health staff to find out how it was progressing on the ground and the difference it is making to the local people.

In 2019, I was Head of Logistics for WAGGGS Juliette Low Seminar in Sydney for GGA. GGA was able to sponsor 4 young women from the Cook Islands to attend thanks to kind donations from present and past Guiding members to the Chief Commissioners Young Women in Leadership Fund. I made contact with Ngara in the Cook Islands who invited us to attend their Church parade while there. I was extremely honoured to participate, not only in the parade but also to be invited to attend the 50th Anniversary of the Girls Brigade in the Cook Islands on the Friday night prior to the parade. Girl Guides, along with Girls Brigade and Boys Brigade are members of the Cook Islands Christian Church.

It was such a privilege to join with our sisters in Guiding at such an important occasion for them. Hundreds of people attended both events, the singing and sense of community was wonderful. Of the 4 JLS young women, 3 now live in Australia or New Zealand, the fourth on Aitutaki, one of the 15 Cook Islands. We took a day tour to Aitutaki, 45 mins flight to the north of Rarotonga and met with Pam at the airport in the morning and again as we left in the evening. It is a spectacularly beautiful Island. The Cook Islands are very remote and spread over a vast area which is also a challenge with the vaccination program and for Guiding. The total population is about 15,000 of which about 9000 live on Rarotonga. A further 60,000 live in NZ and 40,000 in Australia. Many of their young people migrate to Australia and NZ for further education and employment which is a challenge for Guiding in the Cook Islands. When I asked the girls what they liked best about being a member of Girl Guides it was friendship and camping.

For Girl Guide Members, there are abundant international opportunities to explore the world and connect with our Guiding sisters overseas. Girl Guides Australia international travel opportunities offer unique experiences that will help you develop new skills, create lasting memories, and form lifelong friendships with Girl Guides/Girl Scouts from around the world. Broaden your horizons and become a true global citizen.


Explore the possibilities    


Return to Home