Last year, one mid-December night while lying in our tent in a small Peruvian village as part of the Antipodeans Abroad tour, we started thinking about the year ahead. Between carrying mud bricks and spotting llamas, we continued to think, what initiatives could we create to encourage more girls to be involved in Service? While making these plans we would never have anticipated that a global pandemic would disrupt our final year of schooling.
This year, we wanted to select a School Charity that we could physically interact with—provide tangible support, not just transactional. We reflected on the tough season experienced by our Australian farmers, and decided to support them by selecting Rural Aid as our 2020 School Charity. Then, COVID-19 hit and our original plans for the year were significantly changed; our support for Rural Aid could no longer be as hands-on as we initially hoped. We discussed our new predicament with Rural Aid and brainstormed some ideas of how to best connect, and spread love and hope during these uncertain times.
We were particularly interested in Rural Aid’s ‘Gift of Music’ Program, in which volunteers visit rural schools, teaching music to students. Both of us are involved in the School’s Instrumental Music Program and we know firsthand the positive impact that music has on many people’s lives. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the Program was temporarily suspended and we wanted to ensure that the children who would normally participate could still appreciate music. Thus, we compiled music performances by some of our most talented BGGS musicians from Years 7 to 12 into a virtual concert and shared it with Rural Aid, as well as our School community.
While this was happening, another idea emerged after hearing about self-care drawings in an Ethics Assembly and Rural Aid’s ‘Dear Farmer’ initiative. From this, we, along with our House Service Captains, began working on our ‘Notes of Hope’, where we hoped to connect with three groups we believed needed the most support during these challenging times: farmers (through Rural Aid); residents in aged care homes; and frontline medical workers at hospitals.
At the beginning of Term 2, we asked all students to submit sketches, paintings, and digital art to use as the covers of the cards and for girls in Years 10 to 12 to write messages. More than 150 students volunteered for this worthy cause and we were delighted to send approximately 500 cards to these three groups. In our delivery to the aged care homes, we also included a USB with recorded messages of hope from BGGS girls, as well as a visual and audio version of the virtual concert we shared with Rural Aid.
After five busy weeks we have completed these initiatives, and we hope they brought some happiness and comfort to those who received our ‘Notes of Hope’. Last week, we received a lovely email from Aveo Newstead, thanking girls who participated in the two initiatives, along with some photos of the residents holding ‘Notes of Hope’. A Nurse Unit Manager at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital also reached out to express how touched she was to receive a note from a Year 12 Grammar girl. It is truly heart-warming to see our vision being carried out, and fulfilling its intended purpose.
Other School Service groups have been inspired to start their own ‘Notes of Hope’ initiatives for their respective charities, in addition to many other brilliant activities designed to provide support to the broader community. Through these unusual times, we have managed to encourage more girls to be involved in the School’s Service Program, strengthen and create new community connections, and be more hands-on than ever—fulfilling our initial aim we decided upon in Peru, albeit in different ways to what we initially envisaged!
All in blue, we’re here for you!
Gia Cayas (12G) and Eva Seet (12B)