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18 February 2020: Thinking DayA primary school class in Africa

Thinking Day, which is celebrated by Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world, is actually 22 February but our local Trefoil Guild celebrated it at their monthly meeting today. My wife, who is a member, persuaded me to go along so we could give a joint talk on our experiences in Kenya. The meeting was held in a lounge in a local development of retirement apartments. It was very comfortable, with a number of round tables with arm chairs.

My wife started by recounting her experiences in Guiding when she went to Kenya in 1970. The Guides there still followed an old UK syllabus. She volunteered to help with the 5th Nairobi Guide Company and eventually found herself in charge. Since she was European both African and Asian girls were prepared to join the Company. She gave them training, took them camping and on one occasion joined with another Company to visit the Baden-Powell’s old home in Nyeri, where they are now both buried. We explained how we met in Kenya, even though we grew up ten miles apart in London.

We then showed photographs of the trip we made to Kenya in 2017, visiting children’s projects supported by one of our local charities. One photograph showed a large pile of children’s books in a deserted room. It helped us emphasise the fact that one shouldn’t donate goods to any project without knowing that they are actually needed.

After we had spoken we all had tea and biscuits and a raffle was drawn. My wife took me over to what she said was always a “lucky table”. She must have been right, because two of the three prizes were won by people sitting at it.

There was then a short ceremony where candles lit on a table with a Girl Guide flag on it and members of the Guild took it in turn to step up to the table and mention aloud the name of a country whose Guides they were remembering. My wife then read two short prayers from Africa before the Guild members joined hands and sung their traditional evening song.