Little acts of goodwill
Għaqda Nisa Ġiljaniżi
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