Girlguiding GOLD (Guiding Overseas Linked with Development)

>>  Sunday, December 09, 2018

One of my (ex) Rangers has recently come back from Rwanda where she went with Girlguiding GOLD. 

I am intensely proud of her.

GOLD is described by Girlguiding as:

Guiding Overseas Linked with Development (GOLD) enables young women to develop their potential and make a difference in the world
From joining campaigns to end violence against women and girls in Malawi, to encouraging young leaders in Latvia - GOLD empowers young women to work in partnership with other guide associations around the world. It's great for our GOLD teams, who have fantastic adventures overseas, and it's great for the guide associations too.
GOLD has been working with member countries of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) for nearly 25 years. So far, we've given over 600 members of Girlguiding an adventure of a lifetime.

The experience was described by my Ranger as:

For me personally, GOLD has had a huge impact. Although there was a big commitment and lots of work in the run up to project and alongside my final year of university, I graduated earlier this year feeling a little lost and with no job, and GOLD has helped me find my feet and confidence again. At our debrief weekend, I described GOLD as ‘one of the craziest but best things I’ve ever done’, and that is absolutely true. Girlguiding tells us to expect the unexpected on GOLD projects, and at times, we certainly got the unexpected!

From playing with a parachute and bubbles with nursery children, to teaching first aid skills to disadvantaged young women studying to be tailors on a course funded by the Rwandan Girl Guides, to teaching teamwork games to teenage girls, long taxi rides on bumpy roads, being gifted a peace pot filled with peanuts, teaching first aid to over 400 young women at the national camp, listening to the stories of Rwandan Girl Guide’s favourite memories of guiding, and as we drove on the buses away from camp, pulling up next to another bus and hearing the girls sing songs through the window that we had taught them, each and every day was filled with special experiences for both the girls we met, and for us.

I think our team truly embraced the spirit of Rwanda, and this helped us to be successful. We got involved and showed an interest in the Rwandan GOLD team who acted as our translators and guides, they taught us some Kinyarwandan (the language of Rwanda), we learnt that Rwandan people are always happy and smiled with them, and we visited local markets and stalls to support local business. Everywhere we went we were greeted with singing and dancing, and whole villages turning out to meet us. On the last day of project, our leader, Katie, showed us a video of us experiencing this greeting for the first time (let’s just say that our faces were a mixture of shock, confusion and happiness), and for the last time (where we’d learnt the moves, and even the ones we didn’t know we embraced, tried our best, and joined in).

I have too many ‘best bits’ to share them all, but one of my favourites has to be when Super, the Girl Guide who translated our 2 hour first aid session for us at least 10 times, used the recovery position at a wedding she attended. By the end of the project, we were able to donate our bandages and a CPR doll to the Association des Guides du Rwanda for her to use to teach first aid in the future, and she cried when she found out. Although we knew all along that what we were doing was having a positive benefit, it was quite moving to see the physical results, and it’s one of my favourite moments in the 3.5 week experience.

And finally some words from their official report:

After 3 weeks in Rwanda, one of the most important lessons we have learnt is how international travel can have an impact on the self.
Overall our experience in Rwanda was insightful, inspiring and packed with amazing encounters. We discovered first hand how much of an international sisterhood guiding is. Rwanda has a different way of guiding to us and we have a different way of guiding to them but we both share an equally huge passion for providing opportunities for girls to truly thrive.


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