BPW’s Festival Of Women Exceeds Expectations

Comedian Lucy Downey entertains the audience.

THE programme for the Festival of Women was intentionally designed to pack in short sessions to entertain, trigger feelings and celebrate and showcase the journeys and talents of local women.

After several months of planning by Business and Professional Women Coffs Coast (BPW), the presenters and performers took the stage last Saturday, October 29, and they took more than 150 guests on a roller coaster of stirring stories, comedy and entertainment from talented singers, dancers and musicians.

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BPW Coffs Coast President Debbie Petlueng set the tone for the day in her opening message.

“We can’t change the past nor the challenges women have had and are still facing, but we can change the future through working together as women for women,” said Ms Petlueng.

“A feeling of hope for the future pervades here, especially through contributions from dynamic young women.”

The powerful voice of Ginger Freudenstein, an aspiring musical theatre performer, and the creative instincts of seventeen-year-old singer, guitarist and songwriter Austyn Jane, showed the guests the artistic talents being nurtured on the Coffs Coast

The richness and diversity of the area was shared through dance performances from a group of Syrian new settlers to the area, Gloria Mercy and her group of young performers transmitting Indigenous culture through music, the Buddaabang Bari interpretive dance group from Bellingen High School and an Indian dance performance.

Against the backdrop of performances, guests were moved and inspired as they listened to stories of journeys to freedom and fights for survival from Mitra Hussaini, who escaped from Taliban controlled Afghanistan to become an active voice in our area, and Cas Heize, who shared her journey of surviving cancer which led her to a renewed passion for life, social issues and the environment.

Year 11 student Maya Farmer eloquently shared her fears and aspirations for the future as she spoke from the perspective of a young person about surviving as a female in our society.

She shared her activist approach to fostering anti-rape culture and healthy relationships for young people.

To round out the programme everyone laughed along with comedian and storyteller Lucy Downer as she wove her humorous observations of everyday day into stories.

Ms Petlueng said the feedback from guests was amazing.

“We hope to build on this and make it a signature event on the Coffs Coast,” she said.

By Andrew VIVIAN

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