Lena Yacine leapt out of her chair, threw her arms up freely as her body began to sway with the flow of the music.
The music was loud and filled the room with electricity. Soon her body’s movements became somewhat involuntary, such was the power of the song and energy surrounding her, as other women joined in.
"It was so liberating," Yacine recalled.
An aspiring policewoman, Yacine felt euphoric on the camp with other Muslim women in rural Victoria.
“In our religion, Islam, a woman is required to cover and wear a head scarf around men, who are not family,” she explained.
“But the camp, being staffed and attended by only women, changed the energy.
“We didn’t have to worry about how we acted or what we looked like; so most of us took our scarves off.
“We would break out in dances in the middle of the room, and the environment really just made us comfortable enough to do that.”
The chance to embrace her sisterhood, just as special.
“It was easier as just women to open up to each other and get out of our comfort zones,” Yacine continued.
“Even though we had never met each other before we had a common understanding.”
The women that attended The Huddle’s HERStory camp at YMCA Lady Northcote were from all over the world inlcuding Australia, Somalia, Eritrea, Morocco, and Turkey.
“Right away, from when we got on the bus, everyone connected,” Yacine said.
“I have never been in an environment where everyone was friends, there wasn’t one person who was a little off or left out, it was amazing.
“The activities definitely pushed us all of out our comfort zones. We did the high ropes course, a leap of faith, went swimming, played basketball, had a camp fire, and just got to hang out.”
Inspired by the camp and her experiences, Yacine wants to stay involved.
“I want to start volunteering with The Huddle,” she said.
“I see what The Huddle does, and how much it helps the communities in this area, and I want to be a part of that.
“My parents came to Melbourne in 1989 from Morocco for better opportunities and to give us kids a better life.
“And I know what it feels like to not be able to afford a tutor or afford to go to a sleep-away camp. The Huddle is providing these things, and supporting these communities.”
This passion to promote inclusion, inspired by her own experiences.
“Growing up, finances were always a bit tight, but I’ve seen people in worse situations which has humbled me and really made me realise that there’s so much work to be done in our communities,” she said.
“I want to help better the quality of life, our quality of education and opportunities for work. It’s all so important.
“I just want to do my best, and I know giving a couple hours here or there is not really that big but anything makes a difference, I really believe that.”
Besides looking to The Huddle to help improve her community, Yacine wants to devote her professional life to the same goal.
“I want to join the police force,” she said.
“I feel like there isn’t enough representation of covered women, officers from ethnic backgrounds, or women in general.
“I think when someone looks at the police, especially people of colour or from diverse ethnic backgrounds, there is a certain amount of mistrust.
“If we could look at the police force, and see more people that look like us, then we would think, ‘oh, they’re like me, they understand.”