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Divine River offers more soothing balm

February will be another busy month for Divine River, the Wairarapa-wide charity providing education on sustainable approaches to personal healthcare and wellbeing, as it puts finishing touches to its latest programme of free community workshops.

Throughout the month, opportunities to make your own kawakawa balm will be available at two sessions every Wednesday at Carterton, Martinborough and Greytown libraries and Featherston Community Centre [12pm and 3pm], and every Friday at the Shady Mellow [12pm] in Masterton and at Masterton library [3pm].

Kawakawa is a medicinal New Zealand native, easily recognisable from its heart-shaped leaves and nibbled holes from the looper caterpillar – a sign the leaves are ready to harvest.

“It possesses antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects,” workshop facilitator Steff Willmore said, “and the balm is very soothing for many skin and joint complaints.”

“We offer the workshop to people to come along to for free, so they get to learn how to make the balm and they get to take away the product as well,” Willmore said. “We also have handouts which have all the information about what we’re doing and why it’s good for the environment and better for our bodies, if we’re using natural products.”

This latest workshop is another in Divine River’s ‘creativity and connection’ series, so-called because “people who attend the sessions are making something creative, whilst making connections with others in their community and they’re also learning about eco options for these products”, Willmore said.

“You can get the products on the shelves in the supermarket, but people might not have thought about what’s in them and why the ingredients may be bad for us and the environment.”

Willmore, who has been with Divine River since mid-2023 and has a background in art, creative workshop facilitation and aromatherapy, finds facilitating the workshops “really rewarding” and a great way to connect with people of all ages and from all walks of life.

“We had a chap who had a workplace injury and wasn’t able to work. He wanted to reintegrate back into the community but in a gentle way. He attended workshops in the library, in the middle of the day, which is a quieter time and he really valued the opportunity to connect with people again, in a way that wasn’t overwhelming for him.

“Just lovely stories like that make you feel really warm inside and that what we’re doing is really valuable and needed,” she said.

Divine River is also offering the regular ‘make your own eco-period pads’ workshop at 10am Saturdays starting at Featherston Library on February 24 and at Martinborough, Carterton and Greytown libraries until April 13.

“We rotate around these four different locations on Saturdays from 10am to 11.30am every two weeks throughout the year,” Willmore explained.

“Since 2020 we have made over 1000 eco-period pads, which potentially replace 100,000 disposable pads going to landfill,” Lisa Birrell, one of the charity’s founders and its community and programme development manager said.

Figures for other workshops are equally impressive.

“Our creativity and connection workshops have created 231 candles, 209 lip balms, 36 crochet face cloths, 59 batches of bath salts and 71 aroma rollers. In addition, we have distributed around 500 period pads to local schools that have taken part in our workshops.”

The popularity of the workshops is growing all the time, Willmore said, which she attributes to people becoming more aware of what some personal care products do to our bodies and the environment.

“Definitely people’s awareness is far greater now than it was even five years ago and the whole climate change discussion is really prominent right now.

“So I think people want to learn how to make their own. When you make your own period pad, for example, that’s so cost-effective. And in this economic climate, that’s a real draw point.”

For more information visit www.facebook.com/DivineRiverNZ

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