A blog by Inge Withof, SIE Assistant Programme Director
“When the Soroptimist International Future African Federation (SIFAF) Conference was announced, I immediately had the idea to go there to support our Soroptimist Sisters and support the foundation of the new African SI Federation. Moreover, I have never been to Africa so for me it was an opportunity to go there and learn how our friends work. With seven Soroptimists from Germany, Austria, Turkey and Belgium we flew from Cologne to Marrakech.
During the recent meeting of SI programme directors in Lisbon, I met Soroptimists Elizabeth Nyadwe and Dolphine Anyango from Kenya. It was nice to get to know them better and convinced me it would be an interesting trip to Marrakech. Chair of the Conference was Nneka Chris-Asoluka. The opening ceremony took place on Friday. Unfortunately, our flight was late so we missed it. On Saturday, all criteria were discussed in connection with the different goals that the Soroptimists of Africa want to achieve. There were also workshops related to Extension and Membership, and Leadership.
Nneka Chris-Asoluka held an inspiring lecture on passion and commitment: “I read somewhere that there is a difference between passion and commitment”, she said. “When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it is convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.” As committed Soroptimists, we all related to that.
The new board was chosen in the afternoon and Mary Muia from Nairobi became the new enthusiastic chair of a highly motivated 4th SIFAF Task Force. Congratulations to the new board!
On Sunday, there was a session to determine the strategy to establish the African Federation. The Conference was a success and very good friendships were established. The friendship evening at ‘Al Ali’ was impressive because of the building, the animation and the tasty food. Even a Soroptimist firework was lit. The gala evening on Saturday was graced by a pseudo traditional wedding ritual with lots of music and dance and lots of good food. After the closing ceremony, we went to the ANIMA garden, described as one of the most beautiful and imaginative gardens by artist André Heller. As Austrians, Regine Stummer en Monika Göllner, were very keen to see it. It was wonderfully relaxing.
What particularly affected me emotionally as an Assistant Programme Director of SIE, was the project of the Marrakech club: ‘Soroptimist Boarding House in Marrakech for the Schooling of Girls from Rural Areas’. A complete boarding school that was built up and maintained by the club. We were received with a warm welcome with music, tea and homemade cookies by the girls from the boarding school. We received an explanation from Soroptimist Touria BineBine about the project. Afterwards, we were invited to dance with the girls and a song was sung by one of the girls. … She sang that she loved Soroptimists even more than her own love… So cute! These enthusiastic, motivated Soroptimists inspire us to work in friendship within our valuable organisation.
We have made nice friendships with the ‘The Nora Feldhausen travel team’ (image above) and had a great experience in Marrakech.
Thanks, club Marrakech for the fantastic organisation!”
You can read a news article about the 4th SIFAF conference in Marrakech here.