St. Marys Journal Argus
Following through on a challenge that was initially targetted to raise $2,500 but eventually netted $3,700, a group of parishioners from St. Marys Presbyterian Church added splashes of blue, red, purple and other hues to their hair recently in support of a Stratford-based organization dedicated to improving the lives of young women around the globe.
Change Her World was started by retired teacher Linda Willis and nurse consultant/minister Carol Hamilton after they — according to the organization’s website at www.changeherworld.ca — “were confronted with the harsh realities of poverty and gender inequality during a study visit to Malawi, Africa in 2006.”
“We seek to empower girls and women through the promotion of education and building self-esteem,” explained Hamilton, as the duo joined Presbyterian Church members — those with dyed hair, as well as dozens of naturally-coloured supporters — for a potluck picnic on the scenic backyard vista of Rannoch-area residents Paul and Laurie Smith on Sunday, Sept. 7.
Bricks-and-mortar projects currently being supported by Change Her World include a school in Malawi and an orphanage in Haiti. In addition, the organization offers presentations to Canadian hosts about the rights of girls and women in the developing world, supports a training program in Uganda for professionals dealing with women’s health, and runs an ongoing collection effort for new underwear, bras and other clothing for young women destined for donation into Malawi.
Change Her World has ties to the St. Marys-based chapter of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign in support of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, with Willis acting as an advisor to the local group. And, over the years since Change Her World’s inception, the local Presbyterian Church has been equally supportive, hosting the two women as Sunday School and Vacation Bible School presenters, and contributing to the collection of clothing.
This year, congregation members Bessie Hounsell and Marlene Hoyles decided they wanted to step up the Presbyterian Church’s support of the Stratford organization. So they came up with the idea of inviting fellow parishioners to dye their hair if a certain amount of money could be raised. It was a big success — as the photo above testifies.
Hamilton — who, along with Willis, gladly joined in the hair-dyeing challenge — was grateful for the support. She said the St. Marys Presbyterian Church campaign is being treated as a “pilot project” of sorts, with similar challenges now expected to be issued by other groups that support Change Her World.
“We’re hopeful that schools and workplaces and organizations will come on board now, and support this too,” Hamilton said.