"Seeing girls smiling is one of my favourite things"

"Seeing girls smiling is one of my favourite things"

Meet Parana, 29, from Aitutaki, one of the 15 Cook Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

I was born on the island of Aitutaki. It is one of the 15 islands which make up the Cook Islands in the Pacific Ocean. I am a young leader in the Tautu Girl Guide Company on Aitutaki.

The island is known for its pristine lagoon, white sandy beaches and lush green landscape. It is part atoll, part volcanic and about a 50 minute flight from the main island Rarotonga. People here are very friendly and family orientated. Aitutaki has a population of just over 2000 people. Cook Islands 1

We import most of our fruit from Rarotonga, which are imported from New Zealand. We grow most of our vegetables here like cabbage, tomatoes, lettuce, taro, sweet potatoes and yam. The weather is mostly sunny, but it’s a blessing when it rains as we depend on this for our water source. From November to April is cyclone season, this doesn’t mean we have cyclone every year, but we are always prepared.

A regular day for me includes getting my daughter and younger siblings ready for school in the morning, then heading to work from 8am to 4pm. Because Aitutaki is a small island the majority of people are related and look after one another. I believe girls and women here are free to express themselves and able to speak out when the opportunity is given.

The best thing about living in this small community is the way people help each other; whether it’s a community clean up, fundraising for an organisation, or helping a family change the iron roof on their house. Even though we are small in numbers, we always pull through.

Cook Islands 2Guiding is one of the youth branches at our Church, I have always attended church with my family and became involved with Guiding from a very young age. We meet every Monday evening for an hour, then every second Sunday of the month we gather for a Church Parade. 

Here Guides work very closely with our community and church. We help with cleaning and flower arranging in our church, along with helping on community clean ups.  

As a young leader, seeing our young girls smiling and enjoying themselves is one of my favourite things about Guiding. I believe girls should join the Movement because it is fun and you can create a different circle of friends. Guiding helps to prepare girls to face the reality of this world.

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