Friends on wheels: The amazing Indo-Aussie friendship meets

Friends on wheels: The amazing Indo-Aussie friendship meets

Submitted by Rashmi on Sat, 2016-12-17 17:02 The InnerWheel is a wonderful international social service organisation which gives women a platform to build new friendships, promote understanding and help those in need. Being part of the organisation since 2004, I have been enjoying a lot of opportunities with responsibilities.When my sister and her family invited me to stay for a month in Sydney, I thought of spending one or two days for IW friendship meets.  I am extremely happy to share my recent experience in Inner Wheel Australia during my maiden trip abroad. I was a bit tensed but the trip was a great and exciting journey. I attended three informal meets and one formal meet.I was invited by IW clubs of West Harbour, Sydney Inner West and Liverpool Combined, which belong to District A53 and A51, New South Wales, Australia. My friend Val, Former IWA President, Former IIW Board Director and the present President of West Harbour for the 5th time and my friend Chris, Immediate Past International Board Director and Former IWA President, organised a dinner meet at prestigious Sydney Rowing Club on 22nd September.When I reached the venue along with my sister, I was touched by the warm welcome given by them. I was surprised and happy as my senior friends Val and Chris presented me their national project symbol cord blood teddy bear, Inner wheel Australia Flag Pin, IW scarf, Calendar of Sydney, personal gifts and greeting cards as a token of friendship. I felt proud to belong to an international women’s organisation and also for the great opportunity of international friendship.  I was introduced to all other members during the dinner meet and had one to one interaction. A member and past president of Sydney Inner West, Linda, presented me a candle cup and saucer prepared by the club members for fund raising.Val said the club was 45 years old and had only two charter members now, with her being one of them. Their IW life is interesting and supportive. They have many wonderful charities, their club took 35 seriously sick children suffering from cancer and supported them and their families. They are strong supporters of IWA national project Cord Blood Research, which has raised A$ 2.5 million and awarded 42 medical research grants. Their club is a small group but filled with warmth and enthusiasm for the future.Chris told me about her club activities. Their club is small but very active. Once a week, they collect cord blood from maternity hospital and deliver it to Sydney Cord blood Bank. Cord Blood project is their national IWA project too, and they too have similar fund raising and grants as Val’s club. They  serve food to students and at drug and alcoholic rehabilitation centres once a week. They also help drug and alcohol affected young women. Their regular social activities include coffee mornings, monthly film/dinner nights, and a monthly book club.On the next day, they organised a day’s tour with Innerwheel Liverpool Combined club. I was informed to come with smart casuals and shoes. I joined the seven senior ladies. We had a train journey till Circular Quay and then went by bus to the Government house. District member Ailene accompanied us in Sydney.  We had breakfast and visited the Sydney Government House. It’s a beautiful building located in Sydney alongside the Royal Botanical Garden overlooking the Sydney Harbour on the south of the Sydney Opera House, which was built in 1845.  We were explained the inside views of the Government House by a guide. Then we walked in the vast Royal Botanical Garden and had lunch together. We walked about 7 kms and enjoyed the beautiful view of the sea, World famous Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge on the way back to the railway station. We also saw some aboriginal artists playing musical instruments on the roadside. All the ladies in our team were active senior citizens and we walked in hot sunny afternoon.  Aileen went by ferry and we were back home by train. President Judith, Secretary Laurel and all of them invited me heartily for their regular formal meeting on 11th Oct. at Liverpool.On 5th Oct, My lovely friend Val drove herself  and  took me to District Officer Aileen’s residence for the ‘Pink Meeting’ of West Harbour club to raise funds for Breast Cancer and IWA Conference etc in the morning. After the tea, I was asked to light the flame of friendship and speak about friendship. Later, it was a pleasant surprise for me to see that my photos and news of Sydney Rowing club and the Government House visits have been published in both clubs’ news letters on the front page! We had sumptuous dinner arranged by Aileen and Val. They took special care for planning the vegetarian menu for me. I enjoyed the vegetarian cake prepared by Val, the dessert scones, cream and strawberry jam prepared by Aileen. I was surprised when the hostess Aileen showed me her exercise book written during her college days. (She referred to it to prepare the vegan dessert for me!)  After the luncheon, we took a few photos and enjoyed the beautiful river view in front of the house. It was informal meet and I enjoyed it. Val dropped me back to my sister’s residence and wished to see me again in IIW 2018 Convention at Melbourne.  My visit to Aileen’s place for ‘Pink Meeting’ was also published in their 2nd newsletter and it was mailed to me.On the morning of 11th October, there was a meeting at the Liverpool Combined. It was a formal meet organised at the renowned Gemelle Italian Restaurant. The ambience was serene. I was honoured to be the part of lighting the flame of friendship and address the gathering. For the first time I felt I represented my club and IW District 318 at the international level. President Judith introduced me to the members. An active lady, Judith took my photos in her SLR camera and we took a group photo also with all the members. My vegan lunch menu was carefully arranged and I enjoyed fruit juice, Italian pasta, veg pizza and dessert.  Judith presented their club flag along with many gifts that included a photo album with photos taken at the Government House, a cord blood teddy bear, greeting card signed by all the members, Inner Wheel Pen etc. I also won a rainbow scarf in the lucky dip. I was impressed by their discipline and Inner Wheel rules they follow. Wearing the lapel pins is compulsory and all sing the IW prayer together.Their warmth of friendship and down to earth attitude really touched my heart. I remember each one of them and I am grateful to the love and affection showered on me. All my IWA friends invited me for the 2018 convention and wished me a safe trip back home. My maiden trip was a great success. I am grateful to all of my IW friends who guided me and organised friendship meetings there and my sister and family for the opportunity to explore the new country. I strongly hope that Inner Wheel gives us many valuable and true friends. Long live Friendship!  Long live Inner Wheel!Author:Mamatha Deva, Past President, IWC Of Sullia