A NEW women’s charity group has been formed to help women arriving in Southland from around the world – including Colombian refugees – feel welcome and a sense of belonging.
Women’s International Network of New Zealand (WOMINNZ) founder Shelly Ballantine said the group would enable women to collectively promote their individual interests and talents through traditional arts, creativity, crafts and cookery which could then be sold at community events throughout the region to help fund the organisation’s aims.
The group would also help women navigate their new community and cultural situation, as well as being a source of education for them on women’s rights.
Mrs Ballantine said WOMINNZ hoped to potentially work closely and collaboratively with other organisations and women’s groups locally and at a national level.
She hoped they could also access global connections through their respective countries of origin.
WOMINNZ, although not a religious organisation, was open to members from all faiths and had a greater mission to promote kindness, peace, love and understanding in the community, Mrs Ballantine said.
“With kindness and love, we all have a better place to live. Kindness can change the world. It’s never too late to begin.”
Mrs Ballantine, an immigrant from the Philippines who is also a member of the United Nations’ Women’s National Committee of Aotearoa New Zealand, a pioneer member of the United Nations Association of New Zealand and who has served on the Southland Multicultural Council for several years, said she had dreamed of making a difference in the world since she was a child.
“Making a difference for the better is my passion, it brings me a lot of joy. I would love to share that with the whole community of Invercargill, Southland, New Zealand and the world.”
Mrs Ballantine is also selling Invercargill Brand merchandise online with a percentage of the profits going towards WOMINNZ projects.