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La Leche League International
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Fundraising around the World
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

Mary Hurt
LLLI PR Associate
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 40 No. 5, October-November 2004, p. 105.

"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 Union countries.

Karmen 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, California USA. In addition to registration, hotel, food, and transportation, she budgeted $500 (US) for buying books for all LLL Slovenia Groups. A total budget of $2,500 (US) did not stop Karmen.

The $2,500 (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 children: Luka (8), Naya (5), and Jaka (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 Matthieu Chazelle fund. Receiving these funds gave Karmen the encouragement to fundraise to attend the Conference. Karmen wrote more than 60 letters to European companies. Two of them gave her some money. The mayoress of Ljubljana City, who is very supportive of LLL Slovenia, also contributed significantly to Karmen’s scholarship fund. Future Areas in Europe also helped with the costs.

To cover living expenses during the Conference, Karmen reported and wrote articles for Slovenian parents’ magazines and wrote a report for the Slovenian Health Institute about breastfeeding news.

During the Conference, Karmen attended many sessions and met mothers and Leaders from around the world. She also increased her knowledge about colic, communication, education, publications, and the Internet and purchased so many books that she had to buy a new suitcase just to bring them home. She felt that she "robbed" the bookstore since, for about $600 (US), she purchased almost all the books in the English language for her LLL Group Library. For the mothers who don’t speak English, Karmen works hard to translate the information for them.

When Karmen arrived at home from the Conference, she sent pictures and thank-you notes to all of her sponsors so she could share her experience and the enthusiasm of an LLLI Conference.

Since attending the Conference, Karmen has shared her knowledge with co-Leaders and Leader Applicants in Slovenia by organizing workshops, moderating an Internet forum, and writing reports from all Conference sessions she attended. One report that she wrote was for the Slovenian Health Institute, who was especially interested in learning more 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.

Already looking ahead, Karmen has started planning and fundraising so she can attend the 2005 Conference. Start exploring ways to fundraise so you can attend the LLLI Conference to experience Breastfeeding: Ancient Art-Modern Miracle, at the Hilton Washington, Washington DC, USA, July 2-5, 2005.

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