Lit­tle acts of good­will

Għaqda Nisa Ġil­janiżi

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - NEWS -

She re­mem­bers the day well. The weather was gloomy and the sea was rough, mean­ing sum­mer was end­ing and the cold win­ter months were just around the cor­ner.

“It was 1977, when I used to go San Ġil­jan pitch ev­ery sin­gle day in sum­mer with my two chil­dren. My fa­ther and brother were in the wa­ter­polo com­mit­tee,” said Catherine, who has now been pres­i­dent of the club for over 32 years. “My brother’s wife, Laura, would of­ten ex­press her wish to start a com­mit­tee, a group of our own, for women, where we could meet and have a cof­fee and or­ga­nize things in the win­ter months when we would not meet so of­ten. We had heard of a group who was do­ing some­thing sim­i­lar in another par­ish. That day we men­tioned it again.”

“You have to un­der­stand that I was a very shy per­son at that time, but de­spite that, af­ter meet­ing her and with­out her know­ing, I just went to the St Ju- lian’s Par­ish Priest and told him that we would re­ally like to meet as a group of women dur­ing the win­ter. and I asked him if we could use the hall next to the church, which was used for par­ties and wed­dings back then.”

With­out ut­ter­ing a word, the par­ish priest handed over the keys to the hall to Catherine say­ing “do what you like, as long as you are do­ing good.”

Af­ter Laura’s mo­ment of sur­prise at Catherine ac­quir­ing the key, Catherine and Laura de­cided to form a com­mit­tee. They made a list of fam­i­lies who they thought would be ap­pro­pri­ate for their com­mit­tee, started phon­ing them or look­ing out for them when shop­ping. “Some re­fused and some said yes, and be­fore we knew it we had a com­mit­tee of seven peo­ple.”

The group has now been meet­ing on a weekly ba­sis since 19 Oc­to­ber 1977, and moved their ses­sion only once to a Wed­nes­day, when the pres­i­dent of the club could not make it on that Thurs­day.

Be­ing ac­tive, do­ing good

The aim of the com­mit­tee was to not only sit down and have tea and cof­fee to­gether, but also to be ac­tive. The first ac­tiv­ity or­ga­nized by the group was a cof­fee morn­ing at Bus­kett, which was ad­ver­tised on the dis­trib­uted leaflet of the par­ish, fol­low­ing which 80 peo­ple turned up.

“I re­mem­ber the cof­fee morn­ing had cost 50c a head, in the old cur­rency. It in­cluded pay­ment for trans­port, two cups of tea or cof­fee, a cheese­cake, a sand­wich and a cake.”

At the event, the com­mit­tee in­vited ev­ery­one to join the group on Thurs­day, and that was that. “About 12 peo­ple turned up the fol­low­ing week,” Catherine said.

Fol­low­ing the cof­fee morn­ing, the com­mit­tee or­ga­nized a fair to raise money for the par­ish, which sold hand­made items. At that first fund-rais­ing event, the group Lm100, which they gave to the par­ish priest, the per­son pub­lish­ing their ad­verts on the par­ish leaflet, and some to the

Catherine Calleja looks at old pho­tographs of the club through­out the years

The ladies at last Thurs­day’s 40th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion Photo: Michael Camil­leri

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