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Perfect AIM

By Emma Prior

Acknowledge, inspire and mingle were all motivational terms that were put to practice at the first 2018 AIM Breakfast Series.

Featuring guest speakers Anna Carter and Gabrielle Dowling, the breakfast was held in the Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort’s Willow Room on Thursday, May 24.

One hundred and fifteen women were in attendance, enjoying each other’s company and the inspiring stories told by Anna and Gabrielle, with many travelling from all around the region including Corowa, Cobram and Berrigan to attend.

Although not having a specific theme, the breakfast culminated into a motivational session of local women working with under privileged children in third world nations. 

First of the guest speakers Anna, a speech pathology student spoke of how her family established a non- profit organisation which operates in Eastern Uganda in the Budaka district called ‘Life Charity Focus’.

The organisation, which is a sponsorship program aiming to restore life, faith and hope in children was established by Anna’s parents Jack and Dione Carter with their former sponsor child Moses Gorie. 

Since 2015 Anna has been to Uganda to volunteer on two occasions and said it is such a rewarding experience to see under privileged children thrive through their organisation.

“I always wrote to our sponsor child Moses and kept in touch but never really had any huge involvement in the program but after heading over there last year, I didn’t want to come home so I’m now more heavily involved,” Anna said.  

“In the last three years we’ve built a school for about 500 children and there is also 100 children on the program now. 

 “Just seeing the difference we are making from what we are doing and the reward I get from seeing them all so happy just makes me want to go every year and I’m heading back again this November.

“I just do little things while I’m there like teach a bit at the school, go to family villages to see if they are in need of anything.

“It gives me so much happiness to help them find their happiness.” 

Gabrielle, or as she is known in Mongolia Didi Ananda was raised in Mulwala before she travelled to India in the 1980s to study yoga and meditation.

From there she became a nun with Ananda Marga, a worldwide spiritual and humanitarian organisation then spent time as a nun in Japan before she was sent to Mongolia.

For the last 25 years Gabrielle has been the director of a not-for-profit organisation, Lotus Children’s Centre in Ulaanbaatar Mongolia.

The organisation provides basic care for vulnerable and abused children as well as focusing on providing a good education, independence and life skills training to secondary school children alongside the continuation to provide primary care.

At one stage Lotus was caring for around 150 children including many abandoned babies. Now the economic situation in Mongolia is better and young children and babies are abandoned less and less. 

“I was first travelling doing my meditation and through that I saw the situation in Mongolia which I knew I had to help,” Gabrielle said. 

“I looked after one kid which led to 150 at one stage and over my time in Mongolia I’ve cared for around 500 children, putting a roof over their head, keeping their hygiene up and feeding them.

“I was only home once in sixteen years but I know I am doing something to benefit those less privileged and those that really need the help to stay alive so where I can help I will continue to do so.”

For her amazing work with numbers of Mongolian children over the past two decades Gabrielle has had her share of heartache, holding young babies in her arms as they have passed away but she has been rewarded for her compassion.

She has received the Order of Australia medal, Mongolia’s Mother of the Year in 2001, Shining World Compassion Award and won an award at the WIFTS (Womens International Film and Television Showcase).

MC for the day, Tracie Holgate and one of five organisers, Libby Dowling spoke in glowing terms about the two addresses, describing them as “inspiring” and “authentic”.

“Listening to your journeys was quite amazing,” Tracie said.

“I love what you’re doing for those in need - it’s outstanding.”

“When you hear about positive people going above and beyond their duty it’s wonderful,” added Libby.

“Especially hearing these type of stories from women who also have some connection to the local area just makes it even more personal and wonderful.”

Last year the establishment donated $1000 to the Community Health Centre to run a program for year 9 pupils called the Empowerment Project, a project that blends so well with the series aims.

This year AIM have donated to Yarrawonga Health’s fundraising group Helping Hands as well as Danielle Henwood, a local year 12 girl participating in the Pacific Project.