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Kiruhura Epicenter lays it on for the visiting Business Chicks

Well it’s not often you arrive to the energy, colour and fanfare of a brass band welcome but this is exactly what awaited us when arriving at the Kiruhura epicentre in South Western Uganda.

Despite the light rain, hundreds from the local community in the local catchment area of The Hunger Project epicentre, were there to welcome the Business Chicks from Australia, and more kept arriving throughout the day.

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Dancers from the Functional Adult Literacy classes sang their thanks to us for funding. Other dancers expressed welcome and joy at our visit. Small children clambered to sit on the laps of the visitors and quickly stole our hearts.

imageWe split into four groups to meet with committee members and be given a tour of the amazing work THP is doing for the area. This centre also has the added distinction of being the first to head to self-reliance, likely meeting this target in the coming twelve months.

A few years of the girls and I were assigned to the group to learn about IGA or Income Generating Activities and we discussed the 9 ways that are utilised to create profit, most of these being agriculturally based. The centre grows and sells food, seeds and is even planning a hostel to charge visitors who come a long way, a modest fee to stay.

The committee members all personally introduced themselves and explained the volunteer nature of the work they do at the Centre, as animators, and farmers. All were rightly proud of the part they’ve played in the area’s success.

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This centre is truly something special and their greenhouse, irrigation displays, piggery, grafting facility, milling rooms and farms were an example to all the area.

This centre also houses a rural bank for Microfinance and a health centre, food bank and meeting rooms.

Around 1000 from the local community turned out for speeches to farewell the chairman of the past 8 years and gift 20 animators bicycles to help assist them reach further in their work.

More celebrations, group dances and song wrapped up an amazing welcome for the visiting Business Chicks to Kiruhura.

A lunch with Naomi Simson

Well another great Business Chicks event has been and gone and when a couple hundred great girls got together for a Gold Coast event, I just had to grab my sister and join in too.

So, a not-so-quiet lunch with the usual fabulous spread put on by QT Hotels had us all eagerly awaiting our guest speaker… after the incredible desserts were devoured of course!

Bombe Alaska anyone?
Bombe Alaska anyone?

Naomi Simson is often known as ‘the lady in red’ from starting the fabulous company Red Balloon, to her latest stint on Shark Tank.

Naomi

Business Chicks hosted the book launch “Live What you Love’ and I’m currently devouring all the great tips from the event and as spelled out in the book.

And as always, it’s a great time to catch up with gorgeous connections made through BC and the lovely crew themselves.  All the best to lovely Emma Isaccs too, with only three weeks to go for bub number four!!

With the bodacious Bec Bodman and awesome Ali Hill
With the bodacious Bec Bodman and awesome Ali Hill

A night at the Weribee Zoo Slumber Safari

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Now this is glamping!

After a trip from the sunny Gold Coast to cool Melbourne, I played soccer mum, picking up the iMax and ferrying the work team out to Werribee Open Plains Zoo.

There were six of us, staying in two cabins and ‘glamping’ for a night at the slumber safari.

I implemented an annual offsite in 2014 for work, and took the team to Bali for a spot of team building and serious business planning and sessions away from the day-to-day grind of the office.

This year, we combined with a conference in Melbourne and did our two days business planning prior to heading to Albert Park…. But not before some fun at the zoo!

The girls were happy to be assigned to the Growling Grass Frog cabin, and the boys were right next door.  After settling in, having a cold one on the verandah and admiring our view overlooking brolgas, Eastern grey kangaroos and a rhino, we were set for our first activity… a late afternoon wander through the zoo, and bus ride.

Our little tour took us past oryx, camel, kudu, eland, hippo and out towards the home of six Batchelor giraffe at feeding time.  What gorgeous and elegant animals they are, and so close!  Leroy the rhino wasn’t to impressed with us being in his territory and the zebra turned their gorgeously striped butts to us as we ventured by.

The highlight of the afternoon for me tho was getting up close and personal with the White rhino Kepamba.  He’s obviously immune to the awe he induces at around two and a half tonne, and was happy to munch away while we enjoyed taking turns patting his thick, dusty hide.  To be so close to one of the Big 5 when they’re becoming so rare, was pretty emotional.  The ones I saw in Africa all have their mighty horns cut every two years to keep them far less attractive to the menace of poachers!  To see this baby with his horn intact, and being much loved, was incredible.

Kepamba
The lovely Kepamba

The next visit had us drop by the lioness who gave us a few growls, just because she could, and we headed back to the Safari grounds for drinks and dinner.

With the theme of being sustainable and Eco-friendly, the Moroccan spread put on for our evening meal was pretty amazing, and all prepared on-site.  Bravo to the chefs!  None of us went to bed hungry!

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Chad gets up close a personal with a white rhino

An evening stroll through the zoo later saw us wandering through the Aussie section with the dozy koalas and kicking through the shearing shed, before heading back to the hippos by twilight, patting a python and looking in vain for the lovely cheetah.

Roasting marshmallows by the open camp fire finished the evening before we all retired to our comfy beds and rugged up for the night.

Leanne getting friendly with Kepamba
Leanne getting friendly with Kepamba

Waking to the sound of birdsong isn’t new for me, but to have lions roaring in the distance as well is a little unusual, and completely amazing!

A quick shower in the rustic bathrooms with our resident huntsman spider made me glad we weren’t visiting in the dead of winter when the cold winds would whistle up through the floorboards!

After our hearty brekky and a giggle at our fellow campers, all at breakfast in their onesies, from bub to grandma, we packed up the car and enjoyed our final zoo experience – behind the scenes with the cheetah at last and her keeper.  We wandered her grounds, got close up pics (still behind the wire) and watched her morning run for her rabbits foot.  Very cool!

We also snagged a quick visit to the serval cats, helping feed them their mealie worms for breakfast, and I couldn’t leave without checking in on the mighty silverbacks.

I’m heading to Uganda with The Hunger Project in two months and have added gorilla trekking on to my experience there.  It was hard to tear ourselves away from the interaction we were having with the dad silverback as he wandered down to the glass and promptly turned his back to us, while still managing to interact and watch us as much as we did him. It was pretty special and made me wonder how amazing and awe inspiring it will be when there’s no glass in between, and just jungle!

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Russell gets cozy with a Silverback!

If you ever do get a chance to head to Werribee, definitely book in for the Slumber Safari.  It’s totally worth it.

And if you can help support my fundraising efforts for the fantastic work of The Hunger Project, please head to… http://tinyurl.com/

I’ve created a Monster!

Brisbane BBI’ve decided to classify myself as a Business Chicks junkie, to coin a phrase.

I joined this fabulous Australia wide group of top chicks in June 2011 when actively looking specifically for a women’s networking group, but it wasn’t until August 2012 that I finally took myself off to my first event.

I booked some work in Brisbane, checked into the Sofitel for the evening and the next morning took myself off to breakfast in the ballroom featuring the amazing Doctor Catherine Hamlin.  I’d never before experienced The Business Chicks buzz or the magic of quite such a treasure of a guest speaker and came away a little awed, knowing no-one, but having definitely had a lovely start to the day. (And picking up a signed copy of the book Catherine’s Gift.)

In December of the same year, Sir Richard Branson was touring and I took myself and a colleague (#businessbloke) off to that event in Brisbane as well.  Ummm… Wow!  Rockstar entrance at that event! (For Sir Richard, not me…)

By then, I was fairly hooked.  I’ve since travelled to Melbourne to see the incredible Brene Brown, Seth Godin and Arianna Huffington; to Canberra for Deborah-Lee Furness; Adelaide for Michelle Bridges and Sydney for Todd Sampson.  Locally, Dr Lois Frankl and Ita Buttrose have graced the Gold Coast stage, soon to be followed by Naomi Simpson and Sir Bob Geldof. Not forgetting Rachel Zoe and Bobbi Brown in Brisbane.Brisbane3 BB Brisbane2 BB

 

And that doesn’t cover the guests I’ve missed!  You don’t get a speaker line-up like that from too many organisations!  And I will knock Perth off my To-Do List!  And New York…. San Fransisco…. LA…. Did I also see reserved Hong Kong and UK accounts on Instagram?  Global BC Domination on the way!

I’ve also managed to accidentally wangle my last couple of ‘Anniversary of Birth’ days with the BC crew (turning 39 each time) and guess I know where I’ll be around the start of August this year… when turning 39 again.  Someone will let me know when I can’t pull it off anymore, right?

Social media is a fabulous medium for making connections and I’ve made some gorgeous friends through the BC Community both local and interstate, of BC members and the team itself.  It’s always great to catch up with these friends at Premium Member nights, Networking events and their big events of course.

The wonderful Gwinganna experience opened up a great new bunch of connections and friendships (and was so close to home!)

Gwinganna

This year I’m partnering with other BC Trippers and heading to Uganda in May with a The Hunger Project.  There’s an opportunity that doesn’t come along every day! I’ve never done fundraising before so this is a whole new and confronting world for me!  Perfect chance for a plug here, so if you’d like to support my fundraising efforts, please head to www.tinyurl.com/c4e

I’d finally decided however, that I shouldn’t keep all the fun to myself and as my daughter is starting her a Diploma in Specialised Make-Up next month, I wanted to introduce her too, to the BC family.  Bobbi Brown was the perfect place to start, and although at 16, she thought it was all a bit overwhelming, she did love the music, the food, the speaker and got to clock up an extra one hour forty in drive time for her log book, before heading to a babysitting job, then coming home to check out the contents of her first ever goody bag!

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2014! And we’re off and running!

Well I thought 2014 was going to be a big year, and it’s already started with a Bang!

A family catch up; the arrival of Baby Chad into my extended family; the funeral of a lovely young friend and client, who sadly lost her battle with leukemia aged 25; a new Brand yet to be launched for my business; feedback from clients indicating I seriously need to introduce an Induction program for new financial advisers joining my team; two overseas trips planned (Bali & Japan,) a third possible (Canada;) national trips already booked to Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Newcastle, and a visit to a good friend arranged for to the Sunshine Coast next week… to start with anyway! It’s only Day 4… And I’m not even officially back at work yet… Phew!

Last year I made myself one New Year’s Resolution – something I needed to do, and was sure I could stick with.

EAT MORE SLOWLY!

I Really Love Food!  Especially good food with great company!  Unfortunately, with a busy life, I usually have something to do or somewhere to be and tend to inhale rather than enjoy my meals, so that was a top priority for me… and my health.  I wouldn’t say I’ve nailed it, but I’m certainly a lot more conscious of savoring and enjoying what’s before me.

Having said that for resolutions, I also managed to find and purchase two positively geared investment properties, take three overseas trips, improve my business and recruit new talent.  This year I’m still not entirely sure what to work on, but having had a dodgy back for a while (not helped by frequent flying) I think I’ll:

IMPROVE MY FITNESS

Baby steps for me.  Have started with a pre-exercise stretching routine to fix a nasty pelvic tilt and will go from there…

Would love to hear what you’ve decided to run with and are pretty determined to stick to?  Beyond the first two weeks of January that is!