It was important to me to enrol my daughter in Brownies to help her learn about all of the great things girls can do. I was pleased to see that participating in Brownies was one of my daughter’s favourite activities. Every week she would put on her uniform, excited to learn and play with her Brownie friends. When I picked her up she would excitedly tell me all about the new things she had learned.
This past fall, when my career brought our family to Doha, Qatar, I knew that I needed to find a Brownie unit and enroll her to help her adjust and to develop a sense of community. Unfortunately, it became clear that she would have to enroll in the British or American Brownies program. While I know they have great programs, I felt like she needed to keep in touch with what makes her Canadian; this was especially true now that we were living in the Middle East. I spoke with other mothers of Canadian girls in our community and we all agreed that it would be ideal if we could organize a Canadian Guiding unit.
I took the lead in working with Girl Guides of Canada in setting up the unit to ensure that there was one primary contact person. With a seven hour time difference and different working days, the messages could quickly get lost. The process of starting a unit, especially for a new Guider, could have been very confusing and daunting. For example, I had to register each girl (and Guider) as a member by emailing our key contact at national office. Thankfully she is a master at what she does and walked me through each step of the process. After a lot of coaching and guidance, and a few hiccups along the way, we officially became the 1st Doha Girl Guides of Canada Unit. Our enrollment consists of one Spark, four Brownies, and six Guides. We are about to enroll our third Guider and hope to increase enrollment next year.
The best part of setting up this unit was that the girls developed our whole program themselves with guidance from the volunteers. They decided that we would have multi-level unit meetings instead of separate ones, how we would begin and end our meetings, and what badges and activities they wanted to complete over their first year. They were sure to include a snack responsibility rotation, and quickly decided on their patrol leader, circle leader and circle second.
The Guides chose to be “Poppies” in honor of our soldiers and veterans, and the Brownies all became “Kelpies” so that no one had to feel different or left out. From their first democratic election of leaders to the inclusion of “O Canada” at each meeting and having an activity with the local animal shelter, the Girl Guides in Doha are learning and teaching each other about true Canadian values.
While it isn’t easy logistically, the smiles and sense of accomplishment that are evident on the faces of the girls each week make me proud to be their Unit Guider. I am thankful that each week I get to witness Girl Greatness first hand.
Guest post by Daphne Kennedy. Daphne Kennedy is a nurse educator living in Doha, Qatar, teaching maternal-newborn nursing at the University of Calgary in Qatar. She has lived on both coasts of Canada, and is proud to call New Brunswick her home. She has fond memories of being a Girl Guide in Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, and enjoys creating and learning with (and from) the Canadian girls in Qatar.