In February Anne Howard, a Brownie Leader at St Jude's, gave a talk to the Halifax South Division Trefoil Guild about her visit to Aruba in August 2016 as part of a Girlguiding (UK) GOLD team.
Guiding Overseas Linked with Development projects are delivered by Girlguiding adults aged 18 - 30 years old and Anne described how she had taken part in a rigorous selection process in September 2015.
Once chosen for GOLD she had attended 3 weekend sessions to get to know her fellow team mates and to be trained for the team's tasks on Aruba.
Finally after much preparation and fundraising Anne arrived along with 5 other young women on Aruba in August 2016.
Aruba - One Happy Island! - is an island in the Caribbean Sea about 20 miles north of Venezuela, a 3 hour flight from Miami and 11 hour flight from Amsterdam.
The official languages are Dutch and Papiamento although English and Spanish are also spoken.
It is a long island with few hills but many beautiful white sandy beaches and the GOLD team were lucky to be staying in an apartment only yards from such a beach.
Guiding was introduced in Aruba in 1941 through the Dutch and as their membership is currently less than 500 they are an Associate member of WAGGGS - World Association of Girl Guides and Scouts.
They are hoping, with the support of the GOLD project, that they will gain full membership within the next few years.
Along with many other Caribbean islands, Canada, USA, Mexico, Peru they are one of the 35 countries that form the Western Hemisphere Region of WAGGGS, a total membership of nearly 3 million girls and young women.
Throughout their time on the island the GOLD team were kept extremely busy working with groups of girls, training current leaders and members of the local community.
The sessions mainly took place after school or at weekends and often in extreme heat (38 degrees!).
On one occasion they had 75 Padvindsters (Guides) enthusiastically taking part in games, energisers and singing songs.
The 'Girls Can' resources supplied by Girlguiding North East England were especially popular.
All too soon their 3 weeks on Aruba came to a conclusion.
Anne and her friends were delighted when the Arubaanse Padvinster Gilde's (APG) governing body stated that their Guiding Leaders and girls had all enjoyed and gained from the GOLD team's visit!
Everyone is hoping that the Aruba GOLD project will have equal success in 2017 when another team will visit to continue the project.
Anne's Memorable Moment of her trip:- 'Running the Padvindster training weekend was a personal highlight, whilst it was hard work to organise, the girls gained so much from the sessions including increasing self-esteem and confidence'.
Pamela Berry, P.R.A. West Yorkshire West
Links :- www.visitaruba.com www.wagggs.org