Jeniffer, Uganda

“I really don’t know how to thank you enough.  You have been my confidence, inspiration, motivator and above all my best friend.” These are the grateful words from a deserving young lady whom Geelong local Sally Higoe has devoted much of her time and energy into helping with the basics of life.

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Eleven years ago, a chance encounter with 7yr old Jeniffer in Kabale, Uganda was where Sally began her quest to improve the quality of one life. Since then, Sally’s fundraising efforts have positively affected the lives of many in Jeniffer’s community.

‘When I met Jeniffer in 2007, she was selling bananas from a basket on her head, walking the streets and chatting to tourists, so that she could raise money to pay for her own schooling.  She inspired my husband and I, and after a great little chat with her, we bought some bananas and said our good byes. The next day she came running up to us in the street – she wished to return our 10 cents change!’

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Refugee Week

#WithRefugees is the theme for Refugee Week, June 17 – 23. It is the week we celebrate the positive contributions made by refugees to our community. Last night’s Geelong Refugee Short Film Festival, presented by The fOrT Youth Centre’s Multicultural Leadership Committee, at Village Cinema, did just that.

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The films starred 16 of our local refugees while being of different ages and from different cultures, they presented unity in the values of family and love. A common theme was how proud they are to be Australian, while still honouring their homelands. They are very appreciative of the opportunities here and are an asset to our community.

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Sweethearts, Sandy

There is never a dull moment for the manager of the Sweethearts band, Sandy Thompson. Not a musician herself, Sandy oversees “all other things” – supporting the band and director, administration of the Sweethearts Foundation, supporting the board and looking after the girls while on gigs and on tour. “Just call me Mother Duck,” she says with a laugh. She works alongside Michael Fitzgerald, the main contact and musical director for the Sweethearts.

Sweethearts thanks to Patrick Callow (002)

Sandy has been working in the education department for 35 years, initially teaching home economics at Matthew Flinders Girls’ before becoming Assistant Principal. Sweethearts was established early in 1989 when Ross Lipson, a science teacher, decided to gather like-minded students and teachers to share their love of music. Sandy became captivated by the project in 1996, and over the years the Sweethearts grew to an internationally recognised performing band. Although based at Matthew Flinders, the program is run by a not for profit organisation, the Sweethearts Foundation, formed in 2000.

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Lara Drop in Centre.

Plastic bags woven into sleeping mats for the homeless! Please share. “Two years ago, the drop in centre in Lara was born.  Initially, it ran out of the community centre but we outgrew that very quickly and had to find a larger space that could accommodate the ‘stuff’ we were collecting including many thousands of plastic bags.

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“Our current project is ‘bags to mats’, we collect supermarket bags, cut them into strips, roll them into balls of plarn and then weave them on wooden looms into mats. To date we have made and distributed 45 mats and have another 5 to distribute to those who are sleeping rough or are homeless. The mats are light to carry and can be rolled up.

“We’ve been fortunate to have been assisted by the Lara Men’s shed who make our looms, and a lady in Werribee who donated our first loom and showed us how to make the mats.

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Inclusive Options, Peter

‘There was one guy who hadn’t been out of his house since 2003’. Do you remember the story on Peter Jurisic and Alternative Aspect Media? Peter got these guys out of their homes, got them meeting together and producing projects that they love eg videos, youtubes and games. Peter has now founded Inclusive Options a not for profit grass roots, NDIS accredited organisation. Peter has worked in the disability field for 15 years, he has gathered a team from multiple areas of the community services sector and has brought them together to form a team of professionals, who with their experiences, can provide exceptional services to those with disabilities. PLEASE SHARE. You can find them on facebook

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“One of the services Inclusive Options will provide is Alternative Aspect Media. It works with people with a disability to provide them with experience in the media field. Multiple people involved in this program have gone on to gain employment from this experience.’ Read our story, published June 7th 2017, about Alternative Aspect Media

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Sea Shepherd, Beach Clean Up

The Sea Shepherd Australia is leading a beach clean up Sunday 24th June from 9.30 – 12.30pm at Limeburners Point, Geelong. Come along and be part of the change! Geelong Sustainability, our local environmental action team and Humans in Geelong will be there too. June 8th was #worldoceansday

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Please BYO gloves and wear enclosed shoes. 18,000 pieces of plastic float in every square km of ocean outnumbering the sea life at a ratio of 6 to 1. Too many marine animals are injured and killed because of this each year.

‘The Sea Shepherd is a non-profit conservation organisation whose mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.

‘Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document and take action when necessary to expose and confront the illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced oceanic ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations.’ From the Sea Shepherd Australia website

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover, Renew

Story: Jacqui Bennett Photo: Matt Curnock


GeetroitSuper7, Inline Hockey

Good luck to the GeetroitSuper7, a group of amazing boys from Geelong and region who have been selected to play for Australia at the AAU/Junior Olympics, in Inline Hockey, in Los Angeles, California, in July this year. I caught up with the boys at training at Rollerway Newtown. Ashlie Aparicio from Rollerway taught them all to play hockey and has also represented Australia.

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Inline hockey is one of the fastest sports in the world, it keeps kids fit, away from technology and builds new friendships. They learn teamwork and good sportsmanship. Codey tells me ‘it’s hard to describe the feeling of flying at top speed down the rink.’

This OS experience might be a once in a lifetime opportunity for the boys. When asked how they made it through states and then nationals to be chosen they answered ‘teamwork is the key. We’ll need to demonstrate all our skills as we’ll probably be up against the best teams in the world.’

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