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DB Guiding leader Bethan Clark reaches for the stars

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Bethan Clark, one of the leaders of the Discovery Bay-based Brownies unit (Unit 424A NT), has been selected to represent the Hong Kong Girl Guides Association (HKGGA) at an international leadership event in Sangam – one of the five world centres for Girl Guides – located in Pune, India. She was also awarded a full scholarship from the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). The WAGGGS have a fund to support leaders to travel and make new connections. Bethan was encouraged by HKGGA to apply for the scholarship, as her full-time status  as student would help her application.

The September 1-10 leadership event, ‘Reach for the Stars’, strongly focuses on leadership and advocacy for girls. Attendees will develop a community action project for children living near the Sangam centre as part of the event’s programming. After the event, Bethan will use the skills and ideas she learns there to deliver a series of workshops and activities for Brownies, Guides and volunteer leaders in Hong Kong.

When she was a teenager, Bethan represented the UK as a Girl Guide at an international camp in Japan as a teenager – an experience which she maintains gave her confidence, friendship, and opportunities. Now an adult leader for Girl Guides, she was inspired by her experience as a teenager to pursue other leadership activities.

The Girl Guides are an organisation that prides itself on its vision of creating opportunities for girls and young women to learn leadership skills, independence, and to develop their potential as active citizens of the world. Established 110 years ago in England, the movement currently has 10,000,000 members in 150 countries across the globe. 

Girl Guides in Hong Kong – dubbed the Bauhinia Division – have been active since 1916. Open to girls aged four-15 and run by a large team of female volunteers, the Bauhinia Division is always looking to bolster their ranks with more participants, especially in Tung Chung- so that more units can be formed. In Discovery Bay there are currently two Brownie units: Unit 424A NT and Unit 424B NT. In September 2019, they plan to add a new Guide Company and a new Happy Bees Hive.

Girls aged four to six are commonly known as Happy Bees, whereas those aged seven to 10 years are Brownies, and girls aged 11-15 are Guides. The culture of Guiding is based upon the virtues of friendship, collaboration, exploration and adventure. Values well upheld by the movement’s founder, Robert Baden-Powell, who was heard to quote “Life without adventure would be dull.”

Some popular activities among the Girl Guides include crafting, rafting, knotting, cooking, camping, and gardening. Catering to such a wide age range provides the opportunity for various activities, such as trips (that may even go overseas, in the case of Guiding events), first aid courses and special guest visits at regular meetings.

Heavy emphasis is put on serving the community. This is accomplished through activities such as beach cleanups, recycling old crayons to sell for charity, and even making small loans to people throughout the community. The DB Brownies have even committed to community service beyond DB by working with Lend With Care, a British-based non-profit organisation that manages microloans between lenders and borrowers all over the world. Bethan introduced the concept of microfinance to the girls and encouraged them to start their own microfinancing accounts. Bethan has lent money through Lend with Care for four years, and vouches that they are an ethical organisation. The Brownies chose two women to whom to lend their money: one in Bolivia and one in the Philippines, both who were  raising money for their children to go to school. 

The girls of Discovery Bay Guiding are  enthusiastic to play a role in local community and charity events, and a brand new Girl Guide Hall was opened on the outskirts of Tung Chung last year, with plans underway for a Happy Bees Hive there as well. With so much room to grow, the Girl Guides are looking for more women to volunteer their time to be leaders and role-models for the younger generation.

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