by Kurlyne Alleyne, International Commissioner
STOP THE VIOLENCE — We Can Save our Planet. This was the theme echoed by the members of the Girl Guides Association as they gathered at Pax Hill to make personal pledges on how they would help bring an end to violence, prior to the Annual Thanksgiving Service.
The STOP THE VIOLENCE SEnD Add Your Voice campaign is one of the international activities, organised by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, that is aimed at not only promoting peace-making action but advocates for the rights of women and the girl child who suffer injustices through violent acts.
To this end, the Executive Committee of the Girl Guides Association of Barbados decided that, as part of our observance of the 16 days of activism, we would combine the launch of the STOP THE VIOLENCE Campaign with the Annual Thanksgiving celebration, so that greater awareness to issue of Violence and the need for individual and collective participation toward its eradication, may be presented to the members of the Association, parents, and friends of Guiding.
Based on the principle of love, the idea of the combined event also reflects the intention of being of service and not just going to service, so that in our celebration, we are also committing being agents of change.
Girl Guiding in Barbados celebrated its 94th Anniversary this year and as our birthday is also the date of our national Independence Day, the service of Thanksgiving is usually held on the second Sunday in December, so that the girls can meet their obligation to the Parade and other national events.
This year’s Annual Thanksgiving Service was held at the Cathedral Church of St. Michael and All Angels following a parade from Pax Hill by Blossoms, Brownies, Guides, Rangers and their leaders. The parade was led by the Girl Guides Drum Corps who also celebrated their first anniversary, having made their debut at last year’s service.
At the service, a short video presentation on the STOP THE VIOLENCE campaign was shown as part of the launch. Members of the congregation were also presented with pledge sheets and other promotional material and they joined in an act of commitment, towards peace and making a difference in the world.
The service was led the Very Rev. Dr. Frank Marshall, supported by Chaplain to the Girl Guides Association the Rev. Canon Paul Lashley and the Rev. Joseph King, Assistant Priest at the Cathedral. The address was delivered by the Rev. Vera Waithe, Superintendent of the Moravian Church in Barbados.
In her address, Rev. Waithe used a number of stories and scenarios to illustrate the theme: STOP THE VIOLENCE — We Can Save Our Planet, out of which the most notable highlights urged the congregation to first see themselves as “special” beings who are “fearfully and wonderfully made — created in the image of God” (Psalm 139 v. 14). Rev Waithe stressed that if a nation could base its life principles on this concept, more love would abound in our communities and violence would be eliminated.
In her statement, “don’t let what you can’t do limit what you can do”, Rev. Waithe further urged us to not limit yourselves, but to aspire to greatness. Using the analogy of a stone builder who did not see himself as one who just builds a simple house, but also as a builder of a cathedral. Waithe stressed that in the same way that the stone builder saw what he was doing was to be of great significance, we too should see ourselves as builders of a strong legacy of peace and love.
To achieve this, attitudes are very important and we must recognise that how we do what we do, impacts on the outcome, therefore, we must strive to do whatever we do, to the best of our ability. She pointed out that even though others may try to detract us from achieving greatness by speaking ‘ugly or harsh words to us or about us’, it should not cause us to give up our mission.
She encouraged members and past members to reflect on the values that are promoted in the guiding movement, represented through friendship, cooperation, integrity, and service to others, as indicators that remind us to reject some of the ‘trash’ that exists in some of our lives.
She stressed that by living the values expressed through our Guide promise and law, we can live out God’s intention for us to be awesome and wonderful beings, who can help to make a difference in the world.
“To be like God, we can choose to create that vision which is beautiful and helpful and encouraging. Imagine if we each believe how special we are, we could inspire a nation to be special, to treat each other with love; we can help to bring about an end to violence and create pathways to peace,” she added.
We can dare to hope for this vision and not see it as impossible, but to help effect the vision of hope for a brighter, God intended future. Not to buy into the crookedness or to take short-cuts to greater prosperity – we must put in the hard work to meet life challenges with the help of God,
The STOP THE VIOLENCE campaign, combined with 2012 world Thinking Day theme: We Can Save Our Planet (based on MDG 7) is part of the holistic curriculum that prepares the girls to be stewards of God’s creation. Equally important to caring for God’s people, is caring for our lands, seas, animals and other creatures. Our quest is to use our skills and talent to create and recreate beauty in our world and be able to save our planet.