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My name is Ami Wallis, and I was the recipient of $2000 grant from Alpine Energy through the Personal Development Grant. This went towards plane tickets to help me get to an international Girls Brigade leadership conference called ‘The Gathering 2017’.

The conference took place about an hour and a half out of the capital of Ghana, Accra. Approximately 90 delegates attended, from over 20 different countries. I was one of the three representing New Zealand, and we joined up with three Australian women to represent the Pacific Fellowship. This was an amazing opportunity to meet women from around the world, and I feel like I gained so many new friends in my one week there.

The whole trip was an incredible experience, and it was truly eye-opening to have the chance to see what life is like in Africa. There were some minor challenges, such as not having showers, only cold taps and buckets and eating the same meal of chicken and rice for every single meal, but these paled in comparison to the poverty that we could see in the towns around us. It was heart breaking to see so many children on the streets and it truly motivated me to take a close look at the many things we take for granted in New Zealand and in the rest of the Western world.

The conference itself was very interesting, I learnt so much about what Girls Brigade international is accomplishing and we even got the opportunity to discuss and vote on the next major aim of the Girls Brigade, after much debate about several issues that girls face in the world today, such as gender inequalities and mental health, we finally settled on girls education, which massively affects the lives of many young girls all over the globe.

I would like to say a massive thank you to Alpine Energy for giving me the opportunity to take part in this life changing experience, I have taken so much away from it.