YWCA's Ngalingah's Mijung Dubais 'Our Happy Women' departing for their Cairns trip.
YWCA's Ngalingah's Mijung Dubais 'Our Happy Women' departing for their Cairns trip. Alexia Keskerides

Local community helps women 'catch their dreams'

IN LATE May, Sophie Moeller brought you the story of the Ngalingah's Mijung Dubais, or Our Happy Women group.

The women were raising funds to travel to Cairns for the Indigenous Arts Festival.

Their goal was to raise $10,000 to send support 10 local Aboriginal women and two facilitators, and thanks to the enormous generosity of the local community, they have achieved their goal.

YWCA Northern Rivers' regional manager Louise Collins said that while she didn't know the exact amount of money which the group had raised, she said that they had nearly doubled the amount they had been looking for, and as such, would now be able to re-invest that money into their other community projects.

"It was incredible for them to raise that much money in such a short turnaround,” Ms Collins said.

She said that the group worked hard to raise the money, with funding coming from raffles, a Bunnings sausage sizzle, as well as a second hand stall.

Following a suggestion of one of the group members, the women decided to host a cake auction.

As part of the auction, all of their women made their own cakes and sold them in a hugely successful auction, where the women raised over $1200 in one night.

"They did it themselves. All of the fundraising, everything from the sausage sizzle at Bunnings, the car boot markets,” she said.

"They had a dream, and they actualised it.”

The women raised money in other ways, including selling their artworks at functions and community events,

Ms Collins said that the group have already experienced an exhibition of their artworks, as well as two fashion shows, and by being able to attend the festival in Cairns, the women will be exposed to professional Indigenous artists.

"By going on this trip, this group has been exposed to a whole new level of what is possible,” she said.

"They will be able to bring back new skills and knowledge to help them in the future.”

BON VOYAGE: Ngalingah's Mijung Dubais 'Our Happy Women' on their way to the airport.
BON VOYAGE: Ngalingah's Mijung Dubais 'Our Happy Women' on their way to the airport. Jacqueline Munro

Ms Collins said that their trip to Cairns has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"For a lot of the women, this is as far as they have ever been able to travel,” she said.

"In Cairns, the are going to be connected to other tribes, nations and languages. They'll be able to meet a lot of North Queensland and Torres Strait people.”

Ms Collins said that the group has grown out of a community idea to bring together Indigenous women to network and teach them some skills and give them some confidence in themselves.

"They really just took to it and started running,” she said.

"Being able to attend the festival will give them the chance to communicate and engage with art.”

She said that the women really wanted to thank the community, as the community really got behind them, including crowdfunding and private donations.

"When we started, we wondered how we were going to be able to raise that much money. It was a lot of money,” she said.

"Without the generosity of the Lismore community, this trip would have never happened.”

Member for Lismore Thomas George MP donated money towards the trip and farewelled the group when they departed for the airport last Wednesday.


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