All Posts by Mandy Hogan

One year on…. Connecting with Compassion globally

One year on.....
Connecting with Compassion 

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Mother Theresa

What did we hope to do?

"We hoped to do small things with great love"

It is a year since we travelled to Nepal to embark on our Connect with Compassion adventure and begin our white scarf project. The White Scarf of Compassion was literally found in July last year, (based on the Tibetal Khata scarf of compassion) and its creation and development  commenced during our inaugural Connect with Compassion trip to Kathmandu, Nepal. 

In that time the fairtrade organisation, ACP (Association of Craft Producers), and Seven Women Nepal have made and stitched 1000 scarves, created 350 compassion beads and these have all arrived in Australia . 

So here we are, one year later and it's time for reflection on the places we've stepped into, sharing the mindfulness concept of nurturing self so we can serve others. 

Our intention to share compassion has been strengthened with the emotional responses that we've witnessed during many visits and interactions experienced within this amazing year. We believe that sharing compassion can create a global cycle of giving and receiving to improve the mental and physical well-being of people from east to west.

Our mission is to embed mindfulness, in individuals' lives and within communities, for connection of the human spirit, by sharing compassion, gratitude and kindness across the globe. Our White Scarf of Compassion is a mindful reminder to self-nurture and regularly reduce the stress in our lives to preserve our health. Sourcing & selling our fair-trade white scarves provides financial and educational support for marginalised women in developing countries suffering both physical hardship & mental stress.

Go to for more detail

What did we actually do?

We have held 10 Events in Melbourne, Wangaratta and Bali where over 800 people have joined us for documentary screenings, lunches, Tai Chi and Mindfulness training.    

Our scarves sold like hotcakes and now women are wearing them in USA, Asia, Europe as well as Australia which is amazing!

We have raised:

$8177 from Documentary Film Fundraisers screenings of The Connection- Mind Your Body (the documentary that tells us why meditation is so important for nurturing our physical and mental health)  and Bringing the Light  (the story of Seven Women organisation in Nepal creating opportunities for disabled and marginalised women). These documentary Film fundraising events have meant we have raised the awareness of the positive influence that mindfulness and compassion can have for nurturing self and others. Donations to  Seven Women has provided  funds to sponsor and support women and children to further their education at the Seven Women Centres and the rural schools.

$3058 for Baliwise  from White Day Women's lunches and Tai Chi in the Park (these were gatherings for learning the art of mindfulness and compassion and the most important things in life). These funds were donated to Baliwise which is another organisation that focuses on empowering young women. We have sponsored four young girls, to date, to complete their Hospitality and Tourism Course.

> $4000 in donations & sales of white scarves and compassion beads (The scarf or beads are a tangible token to wear as reminder to self nurture our health on a regular basis).  Scarf sales currently support a university Nursing Scholarship for one Nepalese student, and several vocational scholarships for Indonesian girls at Baliwise. 

350 Compassion beads threaded with the Alphabet of the Heart  

1000 White Scarves  made & stitched with the love of marginalised women

Where did hearts meet on the 12 month journey?

Connect with Compassion founders, Mandy & Liz, have offered mindfulness, meditation and Tai Chi sessions with:

-disabled & marginalised women at Seven Women Nepal, 
-World Vision workers in Nepal and Melbourne, 
-school children in rural Victoria and in Kathmandu,
-Fair-trade Association of Craft Producers in Nepal, 
-domestic violence workers of Doncare in the suburbs of Melbourne, 
-charity workers of The Alannah and Madeline Foundation against violence, 
-older generations of Probus and Rotary groups, 
-Yoga and Meditation retreat participants in Australia and Bali,
-young women on vocational training scholarships in Indonesia
-weekly class participants of Tai Chi and meditation in Wangaratta
-International Women's Day gathering for White Day Lunch

What does this all mean?

Scarf sales currently support a university Nursing Scholarship for one Nepalese student, and several vocational training scholarships for Indonesian girls at Baliwise.  

Student S is currently completing her Nursing Degree in Kathmandu, thanks to the white scarf sales. The global cycle of giving and receiving continues. She is thankful for her new opportunities. We are thankful a small amount of love can make a big difference!

Mandy and her family will meet Student S in person in August this year. 

When 10% more girls go to school, a developing country’s GDP increases an average of 3%. 

The life of a marginalised woman is so hard, regardless of the country she lives in. Malnutrition and poverty hit women hardest. Women usually worked harder and longer than men. Unskilled women get pregnant earlier and have more children than their educated peers, continuing the poverty cycle. Nepalese girls will often be married by the age of 13, or sex-trafficked over the Indian border. Unskilled Balinese women earn $50 per month. Skilled women can earn $200 per month and improve their families lives. 

How have we shared compassion?

We've worked with communities and individuals alike and watched the giving and receiving naturally emerge. Teaching meditation and mindfulness practices have been received with open hearts wherever we go.

Regardless of religion or culture, the human mind recognises it needs some space and time to settle and calm. 



At our lunches we asked all of the women to write some words of wisdom in regards to “What is the most important thing you have learnt in your life”.  We compiled a book using the quotes and photos of our Bali and Nepal travels and sent it to Seven Women and Baliwise for the women to gain inspiration.  A link to the book is below if you are interested to look at ( before 11 August) and you can purchase a copy for $70 by clicking on the Trybooking order link.

Download Attachment   

(Available until 11 Aug 2018)

Wangaratta, Victoria


It takes $800 AUD to sponsor one student through the 6 month vocational training program. 
We have enough money from our  fundraising efforts back home and in Bali to support four students to start their training in April 2018.  

Pay it Forward with a White Scarf for nurturing yourself and support a young woman whose life will be changed with your compassion

In March when we visited Baliwise we gave the organisation Director, Fena a white scarf from Anita who is the Seven Women Director.  We have put them in touch so they can connect and exchange ideas and offer support to eachother.  The scarf was gifted from the ladies at our lunches which continued our cycle of giving and receiving. 

 We want to expand on this concept for our current four Baliwise scholarship students and their peers who graduate on October 6th  2018. We would like to give each of the girls a white scarf with a message of wisdom and inspiration from our Connect with Compassion Community.

We are encouraging you to click on the link below to “pay it forward” and buy a scarf for yourself or a friend and one for the Baliwise graduates. Our “pay it forward” white scarf project will be open now and until 31st August as we will need to send off the scarves in early September for their Ceremony in early October.

 If you buy one for yourself you have the option of having it posted to you or picking it up from Liz or Mandy in Donvale or Wangaratta.  


BaliWISE is an organisation that empowers marginalized women through skills education, as a means to develop sustainable communities in Indonesia.

BaliWISE removes the barriers preventing disadvantaged Indonesian women from accessing further education and securing paid work. 

Where to from here?

In the next year we hope to continue our Events and give people across the world the opportunity to connect with compassion and remember to take time out to nourish themselves.  

If you would like to support this Connect with Compassion not-for-profit project by purchasing a White scarf for nurturing your physical & mental well-being (or that of someone you care about) then please choose to Pay Forward the gesture of support and goodwill to marginalised women in Bali and Nepal.

Smile and share your compassionate self with the next person you meet......and the next.......and the next.

 Liz and Mandy hope to return to Bali by the end of this year to connect with the sponsored Baliwise graduates who should be gainfully employed in lives filled with new promise. 

Mandy and her husband, Marty, and daughter Clare will return to Kathmandu in August 2018 to visit Seven Women and their educational projects that have been developing rapidly. They will also meet with Student S who lives at NAG School and is studying Nursing as a result of the kind donations and fundraising efforts over the last year. 

Many thanks for your support and encouragement over the past year and we look forward to seeing you again at one of our Events in the future.

Kind regards

Liz and Mandy

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Mother Theresa

The Cycle of Giving and Receiving

The Cycle of Giving and Receiving 

“We are so often caught up in our destination that we forget to appreciate the journey, especially the goodness of the people we meet on the way. Appreciation is a wonderful thing. Don’t overlook it.”

How does gratitude help your well-being?

Did you know that  feeling gratitude and appreciation could be your  new happiness pill?

We can explain gratitude as “noticing and appreciating the positive in the world” . Neuroscientist, Alex Korb, explains that when we search for things to be grateful for this activates the part of our brain that releases the feel-good hormone dopamine. It can also boost serotonin production which is a brain and gut chemical neurotransmitter (low levels of these chemicals is actually associated with depression).

The Gratitude Emotion

Feeling gratitude could include:

  • the appreciation of other people’s help;
  • feelings of awe when we see something amazing;
  • focusing on the positive in the ‘here and now’ moments;
  • an appreciation rising from the understanding that life is short.

Some people worry that they won’t be able to find anything to be grateful for. While it’s true that on some days it may be harder than others when searching for things to be grateful for, Korb reminds us that “it’s not finding gratitude that matters most; it’s remembering to look in the first place.”

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” Zig Zeglar

Gratitude can change our thinking habits. Regularly spotting the good things in our life can also make it more likely that we see more positives, even when we’re not looking for them.

Gratitude engenders a deep sense of appreciation for what we have in life. And appreciation makes us thankful.  In our modern world we have strong tendency toward always wanting more, never thinking we have enough or that we ourselves are enough.

There is one simple way to express gratitude in life- simply start from a base of satisfaction instead of dissatisfaction, and know that usually what you have is already enough.

It takes $800 AUD to sponsor one student through the 6 month vocational training program. 
We have enough money from our  fundraising efforts back home and in Bali to support four students to start their training in April 2018.  

Connect with Compassion for marginalised women in Bali

So, let’s get back to the basics of life, and find the things to be grateful for.

One of the fundamental driving forces in our motivation to start the Connect with Compassion not-for-profit health and education project is simply that we feel incredibly grateful for the fortunate lives we have been granted.  Our intention is to provide financial support to those living in physical hardship whilst simultaneously cultivating mindful gratitude for the simple things we often take for granted in our more affluent western lives.

Our recent Connect with Compassion journey to Bali was planned to coincide with International Women’s Day (March 8th, 2018), and we chose to connect with the Bali WISE organisation that empowers marginalized women through provision of vocational education. 

So we quickly became aware of some simple things to be thankful for.....

What does it mean to be a marginalised person? We easily find a definition: “to put or keep (someone) in a powerless or unimportant position within a society or group”.  So, how does reading a definition actually give us insight as to what this really means for a human being? Spending time here in Bali, and previously in Nepal, has highlighted for us how different people’s lives are when their society chooses to exclude certain groups from basic human rights of equality. Our recent week brought this message home – hard enough to smack us right in the middle of our hearts and feel it constrict with the injustice.

In Indonesia, an unskilled woman will earn approximately $70 per month: in comparison to a skilled woman in Indonesia who has the capacity to earn $200 per month.

Yes, I’m already feeling grateful- that that is not me……

Here are my recent three things to be grateful for:

1. Gratitude for having skills & education to become an independent woman

As a health professional, I am truly grateful for our Western society’s expectation that an education is important, regardless of gender.  I am thankful for the primary and secondary education that is a compulsory requirement and for the opportunity and freedom to choose to pursue further education, and create a professional career as a woman.

Research shows that an individual’s wellbeing impacts other people in three degrees of separation from us. Educated women usually want a healthy environment for their families, making sure that their children are educated and are in better health. This is the simplest cycle of giving and receiving. Give them an education, and receive the benefit across society.

There is a gender bias with most Indonesian families prioritizing their boys to go to school if they have limited resources. Indonesian women are affected by the need to continue with their household and cultural duties versus the increasing need to contribute economically. These financially challenged women are expected to give most of their meagre salary back to their poor families, leaving little for any chance of future development and livelihood. Unskilled women are open to manipulation such as prostitution, trafficking and slave labour.

BaliWISE is an organisation that empowers marginalized women through skills education, as a means to develop sustainable communities in Indonesia.

BaliWISE removes the barriers preventing disadvantaged Indonesian women from accessing further education and securing paid work. 

Thanks to BaliWISE there are now many more Indonesian women feeling gratitude to their skills and education that has opened a doorway to independence. 

With a six-month intensive course providing free education in English, Bahasa Indonesia, IT, hospitality and business skills, it has helped place more than 800 women in gainful employment since 2012, and will train 120 disadvantaged women this year. 
There is a high demand for graduates, with more than 87% finding full-time employment within three months.

Vocational Training Centre in Nusa Dua, Bali

2. Gratitude for the simple things in our lives-
(like undies!)

Besides the six-month Skills Education course, Bali WISE also provides accommodation, 3 meals per day, uniforms, educational resources and an allowance for of $50USD per month so students can send money home.

A story was shared with us whilst working with the Bali WISE manager, Fena. Part of the girls’ education includes life skills, women’s health and general hygiene advice. It was mentioned that these girls sometimes require basic advice on simple things like changing their underwear daily, and why this is so important from a women's health perspective.
After one of the education sessions, a student was found rushing off on the back of a motorbike to her home village. When questioned what the hurry was, she proclaimed she was off to use her allowance to buy her mother some underpants to wear: a luxury in the life of an impoverished woman.

Such a simple thing we can so easily take for granted on a daily basis. Be grateful for your undies!

3. Gratitude to share and receive a smile

“Smile- it is the key that fits the lock of everybody’s heart” Anthony J D’Angelo

I am grateful for having an ability to share a smile with others and feeling the joy of receiving the gift of a smile in return.

3-BREATH MEDITATION PRACTICE-   that made the Bali WISE girls smile!                                                                                                                                                                1st breath is to calm the breath & focus on the physical feeling of breathing,                                                                                      2nd breath is to calm the body and consciously relax ,                                                                                                                    3rd breath is to calm the mind, by creating a smile and savouring the goodness in it

Smile and receive the joy of being smiled at in return!

GIVING & RECEIVING A WHITE SCARF OF COMPASSION.          Each of the Education Workers of Bali WISE were gifted a white scarf of their own, to wear with intent and respect for nurturing their own health and well-being on a regular basis. As they took turns to share our scarf with each team member, they solemnly reminded each other that the three simple rows of stitching on the scarf symbolises                        CALM YOUR BREATH                                                          
CALM YOUR BODY                                                              
CALM YOUR MIND                                                        
Women of the Victoria, Australia connected with women of Bali, Indonesia by donating the Connect with Compassion scarves in a pay-it-forward fundraiser.

Connect with Compassion:
Giving and Receiving

Our Connect with Compassion cycle of giving and receiving endeavours to support those in physical hardship in developing countries.  

Our mission is for Connect with Compassion to embed mindfulness in individual’s lives and also within communities for connection of the human spirit. To celebrate International Women’s Day 2018,  we facilitated a range of fundraising activities that aim to embed mindfulness and connect humans.

Tai Chi in the Park Wangaratta, Victoria

Women gather for White Day lunches to wear the white scarf of compassion for self and to serve others

Bali WISE with support from the Yoga Barn, Ubud

FUNDRAISING ACTIVITIES: We have hosted Tai Chi in the Park, White Day Lunches of Compassion, film screenings of The Connection-Mind your Body at the Yoga Barn, Ubud, Bali and Seed Yoga, Blackburn, Australia. The generous donations from these events have generated nearly $3000 . The collective fundraising capacity is enough to give the gift of education to four young Indonesian women. Our sponsored new students of Bali WISE will start in April 2018 to complete the 6 month vocational training scholarship with skills in hospitality, business, and literacy.
Documentary Film Screening of The Connection- Mind your Body, shown at the Yoga Barn, Ubud, Bali 

Bringing Mindfulness into the Balinese classroom

Whilst working with a group of 25 young women (aged 18-24) at the vocational training centre of BaliWISE last week, I was moved by the sentiments expressed by these hopeful young adults in the mindfulness and reflection tasks I did with them. The first part of the exercise is a guided Loving Kindness meditation (metta). This is an ancient Buddhist meditation that intends to share kindness and compassion firstly to self and then to all beings, in the name of world peace.

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible”. Dalai Lama

It starts by wishing for self:

May I be safe and free from suffering

May I be happy and healthy

May I live with ease

It follows by extending these same wishes further to our loved ones, our friends and community, our nation, even to those we have difficult interactions and communications with.

The Loving Kindness meditation is followed by a mindful colouring exercise, using the Mandala of Compassion. The girls quickly became silent and absorbed with their colouring pencils following the lines, curves and shapes of this symbol of meditation. The girls were totally in the moment, simply being, with pencils and mindful moments of watching their creations emerge.

The third part of the exercise is for the girls to outline the shape of their own hand and then choose five core value words that best describe who they are or how they would like to live their lives. In each of their drawn fingers they had the opportunity to include what they value most in their life.

When I asked the class to read out one word that was very important to them, I was struck by the number of times these girls read out the word “Independent”. Their desire is to be independent, to be able to be economically sustainable, to be independent to make their own choices, to break free of the cultural cycle that usually traps them in spending their lives committed to household chores, and working rice fields earning barely enough to sustain living.

When 10% more girls go to school, a developing country’s GDP increases an average of 3%. 

The life of a marginalised woman is so hard, regardless of the country she lives in. Malnutrition and poverty hit women hardest. Women usually worked harder and longer than men. Unskilled women get pregnant earlier and have more children than their educated peers, continuing the poverty cycle.   These Balinese / Indonesian woman want the simple gift of independence and a potential to break free from poverty. We had a similar experience last year when in Nepal working with the disabled and marginalised women at the Seven Women organisation. Their one word that seemed to keep appearing as a core value was freedom.

It was my gut-wrenching realisation that this is what it means to be a marginalised woman: the absence of freedom and independence. It struck me how easily I may have taken for granted my status as an independent western woman who is free to choose safety and protection, happiness and health, education and aspiration, and a certain measure of peace in my life. 

Let us not under-estimate the value of freedom and independence as women in our western society.

BaliWISE Hospitality practice sessions

The students were practising their hospitality skills on each other in this class

Education in business & literacy

The shared dormitory- the students love the camaraderie of their cohort and are grateful for their opportunity to learn. 

Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

Expressing gratitude provides a path to more positive emotions. People who express more gratitude have also been found to have better physical and psychological health.

One study by Woods, Froh and Geraghtymore than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:

Physical benefits of gratitude:

  • Stronger immune systems
  • Less bothered by aches and pains
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Exercise more and take better care of their health
  • Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

Psychological benefits of gratitude:

  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • More alert, alive, and awake
  • More joy and pleasure
  • More optimism and happiness

Social benefits of gratitude:

  • More helpful, generous, and compassionate
  • More forgiving
  • Feel less lonely and isolated
  • More outgoing

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~William Arthur Ward

Make Gratitude a verb- just do it!:  whether it’s writing in a gratitude journal, sending out a thankful note, or saying “thank you” to people you love, there are countless ways to express appreciation and thankfulness. Ask yourself daily:

"What can I be thankful for? "

"Who can I thank today?"

How can I "savour the goodness of this moment"?

Keeping a gratitude journal allows us to focus on the positive things. It teaches us how to strengthen our ability to spot them in the first place – and how to savour them.

Grab a journal and, before you go to sleep each night, write 3 things that went well that day and why you think they went well. And write down something to look forward to tomorrow. Keep doing it for a week. That’s it.

"Gratitude turns what you have into enough"