Kidd was elected ACWW's World President for this Triennium (2010-2013)
at the ACWW Triennial Conference in Hot Springs, USA
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Left : May Kidd, playing a harmonica at the South East Asia & the Far East Area Conference
Right : May Kidd planting a tree at Brunei WI headquarters, during the conference
From Scotland to Sarawak - that was my journey to the 10th ACWW Area Conference for South East Asia and the Far East in Malaysia, hosted by the Sarawak Federation of Women’s Institutes (SFWI). The impressive opening ceremony in front of an audience of 800 set the tone. The 200 delegates were joined by dignitaries and representatives of Sarawak State Government, the private sector and NGOs. The Right Honourable Chief Minister of Sarawak officiated, demonstrating the high regard in which both SFWI and ACWW are held. Area President, HRH Princess Azizah, stressed how ACWW and Women’s Institutes played an important part in empowering women worldwide. She praised the role of volunteers who work, not for personal glory or gain, but simply to improve the quality of life for all in society, the nation and the world.
The formality of the occasion relaxed and there were smiling faces everywhere when I accompanied that large gathering on my small harmonica while they joined enthusiastically in the singing of Auld Lang Syne. It was a delight to meet delegates from Indonesia, South Korea, Brunei, Pahang, Johor and Sarawak and to hear their stories, all different and yet united within ACWW. They brought the conference theme to life: “Voice of Women Worldwide – Empowering Transformation”. By the end of the week, 27 delegates had signed up for ACWW individual membership. Each was welcomed on stage and warmly applauded. Among them was the Borneo Post reporter/photographer, Cecilia Sman, who was with us throughout the conference and was so impressed that she decided to become an ACWW member.
I have many abiding memories of these precious days together. I shall not forget the happy evenings of fine food, music, song and dance, especially when we were entertained by SFWI in their Miri headquarters. Thank you SFWI for your attractive new recipe book. I think we shall have a Sarawak evening here in Scotland soon and try out some of these delicious dishes. I shall not forget our visit to the longhouses – yes, they really are long - where the indigenous families of Sarawak live side by side, each in its own little unit, in peace and harmony, with all generations cared for and respected. There is a lesson to be learned there for everyone.
We went abroad, passports and all, to the neighbouring country of Brunei and as always, enjoyed excellent WI hospitality. I hope the four trees which we planted at Brunei WI headquarters will flourish and bear fruit. It was suggested that I needed to return on a monthly basis to water them. Well, I can only dream! I am grateful to Princess Azizah and her team, not least Dato Ursula Goh, my predecessor and co-chair of the conference organising committee, along with Aishah Edris, SFWI State chairman. Thank you all. Finally, these words were on a calendar in my conference room: “Think of the things people have done that made your day, and make a point of doing those same things for others.”