Saturday, November 8, 2014

Beautiful people: CJ Wello

Our beautiful Koori girls sang and brought down the house. Keep an eye out for them in the future.

The visionaries of Waminda and current CEO of Waminda Faye Worner.

Proudest moment watching my best friend shine <3 You're the bomb sis!

Two months ago I was invited to attend the Waminda Ball that was held to celebrate 30 years of service to the Aboriginal Women on the South Coast in New South Wales. I've known of Waminda for as long as I can remember because my best friend's mother had worked with them for years.

It was a familiar office that we'd call into when walking through town. We would see the same faces and feel that sense of community when walking through the door. When you're a young Polynesian girl growing up in a predominately white community, you find community in a sense of familiarity and belonging and this was one of those places for me. 

As I've grown up and gone out into the world, I've had the good fortune of possessing a loving family, a hefty collection of true friends and a chance to travel and see outside of my community. I seem to come and go on the regular and upon my return I notice that too many things remain the same. Same jobs, same pubs, same people, same story; so much so that I could only ever seem to stomach the place for a good couple of months before getting itchy feet again. 

But when I arrived home late last year, I was eager to be back to rejoin with my Dead or Deadly Sisters. Dead or deadly is a well-being program offered by Waminda to Indigenous women in the community. This program taught me so much about health and well-being. It taught me how to move my body, how to increase strength and how to grow and encourage others to train and make healthier choices. 

Not only do Waminda offer programs led out by local Indigenous women but they are also committed to training their workers. These women are valued and it shows as they are paid above award wages. Waminda offers a whole bunch of SERVICES to the community and are continually growing every year. Services like this don't just pop up over night. Services like this are rare and I'm so proud of the women who continue to pursue the dreams of their Elders who envisioned a service to help Koori women thrive.

It is something that I am honoured to have witnessed. I've watched women walk through the doors and have been transformed mentally into a whole new vibrant life force. I was so caught up in my passion for this particular program that I failed to notice the metamorphosis of my very own best friend. 

The once well-known 'shy girl' -who asked if I could attend school Koori camp with her because she didn't know anyone else- was standing up in front of a room full of Elders and politicians proudly directing guests to their seats. I don't know how the hell I missed this one.

CJ was far from the quiet Koori girl who would only write me letters with the initials of the boys that she loved inside them. She had outgrown the girl who'd preferred not to walk to the school canteen alone. 

She was exactly what she was meant to be. 

A strong, knowledgable woman of culture and apart of Australia's future. She is driving towards closing the gaps of inequity for her people. She is a special soul sister and I'm thankful I was home to witness this. To Waminda and every woman who is apart of this service, thank you. 
I can't wait to see your achievements in the next 30 years.

Big Love,

Mele Falala

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