Guides’ link to Ukraine

For those of you whose Brownie or Scout days are just a distant memory or those who weren’t lucky enough to join us for scraped knees and jamborees, 22 February was a special date for members of Guiding as it is our World Thinking Day, an annual event which is celebrated in 150 countries around the world by 8.8 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. On this day we celebrate Guiding and its impact on girls and young women. The date was chosen as it is the birthday of our founder, Lord Baden-Powell and wife Olave.

Our WAGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) theme this year was ‘Our World, Our Thriving Future,’ which took us on a journey exploring crucial global issues through the lens of environmental sustainability, gender equality, peace and poverty. And our Bradley Stoke group organised a flexible online ‘Guide your way around the world’ event, but of course it wouldn’t be Guiding if they didn’t both come with a badge to be earned. In addition, we chose to host a Ukraine night as this coincided with the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion. We are fortunate to have welcomed to our unit the Ukrainian born Amira, who along with her Brownie sister Adelina and their mother Anna, took us on a journey through their home country.

Some things about Ukraine we learned: their flag depicts the sky above and the endless fields of wheat beneath it (Ukraine is the first country in Europe in terms of arable land area), Varenyky dumplings are easy to make and delicious, and in the Ukrainian countryside you can find beavers and moose.

Adelina read us her favourite short story, Amira wore her traditionally embroidered blouse and Anna shared ‘Patron’ chocolate bars with all the girls and a Christmas traditions chocolate gift. Each girl also received a Ukraine fundraiser badge and we made and raced paper swallows (this is what the Brownies are called in the Ukraine). 

MP Jack Lopresti received a last-minute invitation but his office had to decline as he was actually in the Ukraine at the time but we have discussed the family visiting his office for a coffee and a chat.

Each Christmas, my units adopt an animal and last year 1st Pilning Rainbows supported IFAW who have helped to rescue and care for big cats who were trapped in war-torn Ukraine. Now, Alex the white tiger and leopards Brave and Kiara have safe homes. 

I would also like to acknowledge the assistance given to us by WAGGS. We have all benefited from their support, receiving a grant and translated documents to help our Ukrainian girls and volunteers in the UK. 

by Sara Messenger, Unit Lead, Bradley Stoke