Ever since I can remember, the group C.W.A has been apart of our family. C.W.A stands for Country Women’s Association. As a descendant of farmers from both my mothers and fathers side it is an association that both of my grandmothers were apart of.
My paternal grandmother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at 40 and so I never knew her in her full glory. “Nanna” to me was someone who was as sweet as apple pie (birdy kisses were her favourite), she was fragile, caring and very quiet. Although I don’t know her full involvement, I’m told she was a member of C.W.A in her 30’s, maybe even earlier. She passed away while I was living in London just over 10 years ago.
My maternal grandmother, “Gran”, passed away last September aged 94. Even as I write that my heart aches. This matriarch of all matriarch’s, was an amazing woman. She would do anything for her family and prided herself on her community involvement. I remember going to C.W.A with Gran even just to drop her off in her older years.
Even though there was family involvement I guess I never really thought about what C.W.A was or what it did. I assumed that because Gran was a great cook and a great crafter that it was primarily cooking and craft.
A few weeks ago I went to my first C.W.A meeting. In our little town of 1200, there are 18 registered members in our C.W.A. branch. At our meeting there were perhaps 10, including my friend Tanya and I.
To say Tanya and I were excited is quite a large understatement. We didn’t know what was ahead of us and we were behaving like giggling little school girls.
I certainly wasn’t prepared when the meeting was opened and we sang the national anthem – yes, all 10 of us, standing.
And I really wasn’t prepared for this motto below, read aloud in unison;
My heart stood still, my skin was pimpled with goose bumps, my eyes were welled with tears.
Slowly my C.W.A journey was beginning and it was better than I could have hoped for.
The C.W.A is not all cooking and craft. It is about friendship. About women coming together for the greater good. To help each other and others externally.
Yesterday we ventured to a neighbouring C.W.A in Tooborac, Victoria. They were hosting lunch and had a guest speaker.
After feasting on delicious homemade soup and sandwiches. A young man, well he was probably my age but when you’re hanging out with ladies 60 and above you feel he is young, got up and spoke about going to Cambodia to work with Habitat for Humanity an aid organisation who builds houses for people in need.
It was fascinating. I learnt more about Cambodia in his 30 minutes of talking than I had ever known. The killing fields, the injustice, the poverty and the way in which these people are slowly finding an identity and life for themselves after decades of atrocities.
Cambodia is C.W.A Victoria’s country for 2012. You see as well as helping each other, C.W.A branches raise money to help their communities, they raise money to help others elsewhere and are continually looking at what they can achieve as a collective group.
Cooking and craft as a natural interest of most women is apart of C.W.A but often these items feature outside of the normal meetings, you don’t have to do it.
To join C.W.A you need a good heart, that’s all.
I’m thrilled I’ve joined. I’m happy to wear the jokes that have been coming my way. In fact I’m damn right proud of being a member and look forward to being apart of this for many more years to come.
My only regret is that I didn’t do it while my Gran was still with us, so we could do it together.