As part of SI Centenary celebrations, some Past Presidents of Soroptimist International of Europe look back on the highlights of their biennium. Kathy Kaaf, SIE President SIE 2011-2013, remembers.
The first highlight of the 20th SIE-Congress in 2013 in Berlin was the opening ceremony in the glass courtyard of the Jewish Museum — a venue that paid homage to the Jewish Soroptimists of the original Berlin Club.
I was delighted to welcome eagerly expectant participants from 58 countries under the canopy of a wonderful summer evening sky. Three talented German artists entertained us with their outstanding musical and verbal gifts: lyricist Nora Gomringer, Katharina Müther (accordion and chant), and Roswitha Dasch (violin and chant). It was a magical night that allowed us a glimpse of “Paradise”, the daring motto of the congress whose theme was “Soroptimists Go for Water and Food”.
“Wow!” was Auma Obama’s spontaneous reaction when she began her lecture to 1,300 Soroptimists; “what concentrated energy I have here in front of me!” Obama’s Sauti Kuu Foundation for Nutrition, Sport, and Education to aid young people in Kenya complemented our congress theme and presented a further example of our successful cooperation with organizations such as “Welthungerhilfe”. The Russian-Danish activist Selina Juul communicated her message to ‘Stop Wasting Food’ with great enthusiasm. As our event drew to a close, hers proved one of its most urgent and effective appeals: eat less meat, throw away less food!
The ten minutes of communal singing that ended morning sessions proved a popular part of the programme. Both strength and exhilaration emanated from the international repertoire, and the singing created an atmosphere of energy and joy among the 1,800 Soroptimists assembled in Berlin.