Did you miss the Empowher event? Here's a recap!

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Grace Ellis
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There’s something special about 150 women from all walks of life gathering in the same room. The hugs, the smiles, the listening ears, the empathy, the friendships, the laughter, and of course, the ongoing conversations.


Petra Bagust with some of the women at Empowher.


On Thursday, June 24, Tearfund hosted Empowher, a women’s event, at The Upper Room. The event was an incredible opportunity to bring women together, be encouraged, and do something powerful in the lives of mothers and babies in Indonesia through our new Mums and Bubs project.

If you were there, we loved having you! If you weren’t, let me paint a picture of what it was like. You walked into the Upper Room greeted by two wonderful, friendly Tearfund faces. The first thing you see is not your friend who was meeting you there, but a delightful, delicious, thoughtfully laid-out dessert platter filled with food that just melts in your mouth.


Dessert platter created by Zoe Howcroft.


Once the women grabbed something sweet to eat, chit-chatted, had a hot drink and taken some photos, they made their way to their seats in the auditorium. Boy were they in for a treat!

First up to the stage was media personality and lover of te reo Māori, Petra Bagust. She has spent more than 20 years of her life on our screens. She has fronted a wide range of successful series including What’s Really in our Food, and TVNZ’s Breakfast programme. Petra asked the audience the question, “do your thoughts hold you hostage”? Some of her key points were, trust yourself, and be who you are. She also said it’s important to pay attention to your thoughts and see them from a different perspective. She said, as women, we need to learn to embrace ourselves, we are not a problem to be fixed, we are indestructibly valuable.


Media personality Petra Bagust.


Next up was the incredibly frank, down-to-earth, genuine, sex therapist—Jo Robertson. Jo has a Master’s of Science in Sex Therapy and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Counselling. She has had 15 years’ experience working in sexual health, through education and counselling. Jo has a private therapeutic practise specialising in problematic sexual behaviours and relationship breakdown due to betrayal. She is also the Research and Training lead for The Light Project, a charitable trust researching the messaging in porn, the influence on sexual culture and how to have positive conversations about it. She recently did a TEDx talk in Christchurch on, “why we need to talk about porn”— which had more than 265,000 views #nobigdeal. She spoke at Empowher about Interruptions to Intimacy. Let’s talk about sex baby! Enough said!


Sex therapist and Ted talk speaker Jo Robertson.


The third and final speaker, was pastor at the Upper Room Church and mum to four boys, Pip Smyth. She is also a Key Accounts Management Support person at a shipping company. Pip’s youngest son surprised their family with an extra chromosome. Since his birth, she has focused on encouraging new mums who have also had a baby with down syndrome. Pip was a breath of fresh air—she was funny, witty, clever and kind. She was extremely relatable, wise and disarming. Her warm personality came across as she shared about finding joy in the unexpected. She said, “Joy is not happiness which is a feeling that comes and goes. It is also not based on our circumstances. Joy is not in things; it is in us.” She said, “Having a child with a disability is the hardest and the most rewarding thing I have ever done. It is exhausting and it is a gift. It is heart-breaking, it is also hilarious, fun, unpredictable and rich. I thought my unexpected circumstances meant my life was ending. But with time, I've realised I got a brand-new beginning. The unexpected broke my heart, but my heart has grown and I have learnt that there is joy in the unexpected of life.”


Pastor and mum of four boys Pip Smyth.


Almost 150 women showed up to the event.


What an evening it was! The women walked away from the event feeling blessed and their tanks full. And if they pledged their support to Mums and Bubs, they also walked away knowing that because of them, a beautiful mama and her baby in Indonesia would be educated, empowered, looked after, cared for and loved.



If you want to learn more about our NEW Mums and Bubs project, click below

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Grace Ellis

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