around the World
by Karmen Mlinar, Slovenia
Looking for ways to get to the 2005 LLLI Conference? Here's some inspiration adapted from an article in the October-November 2004 issue of LEAVEN, LLLI's publication for Leaders!
"I love reading NEW BEGINNINGS and LEAVEN and when an invitation to the LLLI Conference appeared in these magazines I was very enthusiastic," states Karmen Mlinar, Leader from Slovenia, a country of two million inhabitants that recently became one of the European Community countries.
Karmen Mlinar lived by the slogan "Where there's a will there's a way" when she solicited funds to attend the 2003 LLLI Conference in San Francisco, CA, USA. In addition to registration, hotel, food, and transportation, she budgeted $500 (US) for buying books for all LLLI Slovenia Groups.
A total budget of $2500 (US) did not stop Karmen.
The $2500(US) was more than five months of her salary as a part-time computer system engineer. In Slovenia, there is one year of maternity leave, but after that most mothers go back to full-time work. Karmen has chosen part-time work because of her family. She is mother to Luka (8), Naya (5) and happy breastfeeding toddler Jaka (almost 3).
Karmen's dream to attend the Conference came closer when she was notified that she had won a Leader scholarship to the 2003 Conference and a donation from the Matthew Chazelle fund. Receiving these funds gave Karmen the encouragement to plan seriously to fundraise to attend the Conference. Karmen wrote more than sixty letters to European Companies. Two of them gave her some money. The mayoress of Ljubljana city also contributed significantly to Karmen's scholarship fund. The mayoress is very supportive of LLL Slovenia. Future Areas in Europe also helped to cover the costs.
To cover living expenses while at the Conference, Karmen reported and wrote articles for Slovenian parents magazine and a report for the Slovenian Health Institute about breastfeeding news.
Karmen said the Conference increased her knowledge about colic, communication, education, publications and the internet. Since the Conference, she has shared her knowledge with co-Leaders and Leader Applicants. She has organized Slovenian workshops and written short reports from all Conference sessions she attended. They also discussed the new information from the Breastfeeding Answer Book.
Karmen moderates the Slovenian LLL Breastfeeding Internet Phorum. She answers questions as an LLL Leader and has written short reports for the Phorum also.
She made a Conference report for the Slovenian Health Institute. They were especially interested in the report about breastfeeding and HIV. Karmen also remains in constant communication with health personnel in a local maternity hospital. They, too, were very interested in information from the Conference. "It took us a few coffees to go over all the information," she stated.
Karmen purchased so many books that she had to buy a new suitcase just to bring them home. She felt that she "robbed" the book store since for about $600 (US) she purchased almost all the books in the English language for her LLL group library. Her group mothers are really happy to have new, up-to-date books. Not all mothers speak English, however, and Karmen works hard at translating. Recently they were very happy that one of Dr. Sear's books, Successful Child, was published in the Slovenian language.
When Karmen came home from the Conference she wrote thank you notes to all of her sponsors and included pictures as well. She states: "Visiting an LLLI Conference is one of the best possibilities to gain new knowledge, meet other Leaders, share experiences, and meet new friends. Last but not least, it is a great way to feel the atmosphere of people who parent their children the way I do and feel their enthusiasm."
Karmen says that she came back from the Conference full of new knowledge, unforgettable impressions and many new friends-but with an "empty wallet" because of her bookstore purchases. Karmen says that she hopes to meet us in Washington DC at the next LLLI Conference. She continues to write articles about breastfeeding and parenting for two Slovenian magazines. While she enjoys getting feedback from mothers who write her about breastfeeding, she is also saving almost all of the honorariums to help fund her way to the next Conference. She states: "I have a lot of work to do for that goal, but ... if there's a will there's a way.
Start exploring ways to fundraise to help yourself attend the LLLI Conference and discover the world of LLLI at the LLLI Conference, Breastfeeding: An Ancient Art---A Modern Miracle, at the Hilton Washington and Towers, Washington, D.C., USA, July 2-5, 2005.