Feels like I’ve been in Rarotonga for ages. The last 2 days have been jam packed with big star weaving workshops and a bit of down time to rejuvenate and reflect on this journey of star weaving across the Pacific.
Last night, Merita (Punanga Tatuturu) and I were invited to a function for International Women’s Day 2016 at the residence of the New Zealand High Commissioner Nick Hurley and his wife Christine Hurley. I didn’t realise I was invited to speak, but hey, I did say to use me while I’m here on the island and that I wanted to experience as much as possible. I ended up feeling quite honoured, especially after hearing Christine Hurley speak about her life and travels. We can’t appreciate a person’s sacrifice and effort unless we hear them speak – Christine spoke of setting up a Cancer Council in Samoa, being based in Iran and then Switzerland, in Samoa and now the Cook Islands. She wore a gorgeous puletasi (Samoan women’s top and lavalava) which I spotted straight away (see our pic below). It was a lovely evening of networking and meeting other Cook Islander women who are movers and shakers here on the islands. Of course, not everyone was there but enough to appreciate the diversity and passion. Everyone spoke of loving living in Rarotonga and one woman even asked me when I was moving over!
This morning I ran a star weaving workshop at Titikaveka College with some Yr8 students. They were naturals and most students made 2 stars, the second one with little or not assistance! It’s always great to weave at schools and apply the message of the One Million Stars project to a school community.
Before heading out to Punanga Tauturu Inc (PTI) for another star weave jam, I managed to squeeze in a swim in the beautiful clear waters of Rarotonga. I’m a water girl, so it doesn’t take much to feel restored and healed by the ocean.
Tonight at PTI we got to weave with some of the Board Members and staff that work at this Women’s Counselling Centre. It was lovely to see children there as well, and of course, always a good spread of food and new connections made. This a small organisation that has worked tirelessly for many years to support women in need of help from domestic violence so I am thrilled that are participating in the One Million Stars project as a Weave100 Community. An uncle from Aitutaki Island (north) said that he is going to take some stars and a poster to promote the project there (about 1 day on the boat to get there). It was lovely to witness the chatter amongst everyone as they were star weaving, talking about where they are going to share the stars and who they are going to talk to about getting involved – schools, banks, police…Even connecting me with contacts in other Islands and UK cities that I will visit later this year.
There is such a huge need to take care of each other, especially those who are are caring for the most needy and most hurt in community. We all need to feel supported. We all need to feel that there is hope and purpose to what we are doing. The stars help us to feel rewarded and connected for pursuing community safety, empowerment of women and communities free from violence and abuse.
The One Million Stars project is simple. Perhaps a little bit too simple which can be reason for people to disregard its impact and purpose. I think what helps people grasp the project is hearing the story of the origins and some of my thoughts on why it continues to grow. I even think weaving a star activates a calmness and a connectedness that is meaningful if not satisfying for being able to do something creative. So many of us are doing ground breaking, innovative, hard work that goes unrecognised or unacknowledged, even without adequate resources and funding, yet we are committed and passionate. But we are human and we get tired and we lose hope and despair. For me these stars remind us that we are working, doing a lot or doing a little, we are working and it all serves the purpose of creating a world free of physical and psychological violence. If we’re not doing it to each other, we’re doing it to ourselves. It needs to stop and it can. It’s impossible but why should that stop us. It’s huge but there is brilliance and courage in us so let’s get on with it. Sometimes all we can do when we have had enough is to lift our eyes and see the light and goodness in the world. And that’s ok too.