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A Wonderful Surprise

[Updated 6 June 2020 and 29 July 2020]

Another request for information, from our ACW blog, has been answered by the delivery of a very generous gift that winged its way from Yangon, Myanmar, to Melbourne, Australia. It came from a dear friend of Australian Church Women, Dr Esther Byu, a past Executive Secretary of the Fellowship of the Least Coin (FLC).

On 14 May, I received an unexpected email from Esther to say that because of the ‘stay home’ rules, she had time to think of friends and to pray for them, as well as an opportunity to sort out her files and photos related to the various ecumenical organisations and movements she has been involved with over the years. Esther wrote to me to enquire if I was still compiling a herstory of the Asian Church Women’s Conference (ACWC), as she had some historical photos of ACWC assemblies to pass on.

You can imagine that I was greatly surprised to receive Esther’s offer, and I responded that I would be very grateful to receive her photos. Further emails took care of the delivery details and advised me when the photos were sent. I was also excited to learn that the photos included one of the 1962 assembly of the ACWC. Esther was unaware of my request at the end of 2019 for a photo of that second ACWC assembly [see the blog post on 27 December]. The Lord had graciously answered the prayers for photographs in an unforeseen way.

The package arrived two days ago, and it was in excellent condition with no marks, tears or creases. Not only did it contain a photo of the 1962 ACWC assembly, there was also a photo of the representatives from Burma who were at this event, complete with their names. This was the first ACWC assembly that Esther attended at the age of 23, and Esther is now honouring the memory of those foremothers of the Asian Church Women’s Conference with her collection of photographs.

I recognise a few faces in the photo, but so many are unknown to me. Perhaps over the months ahead, I will discover many more names and be able to match them to the women I see in this photo. I am particularly looking for the Australian delegate, Mrs Edna (Roughley) Beales, to be identified. Hopefully, someone will recognise her and advise me which one is Edna. My email is


Updated 6 June 2020

Another answer to a request for information. Edna is kneeling in the front row, 4th from the right. Thank you Darren. Darren is the grandson of Edna (Roughley) Beales, and we are very grateful to him for recognising his beloved Nanna and identifying her in this photo.


Updated 29 July 2020

We are grateful to Irene, the daughter of Rathi Selvaratnam, for confirming that her mother attended the 2nd Assembly of the Asian Church Women's Conference in 1962. I thought I recognised Rathi in the photo, but I didn't have any documentation to verify she was there. Rathi is in the third row from the front, 6th from the left.

It was at the next assembly in 1966 that Rathi was elected chairman of both the Asian Church Women’s Conference and the Central Committee of the Fellowship of the Least Coin for four years.


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1 Comment

Jul 26, 2020

Dear Donna I was going through the ACW website and I came across the 2nd ACWC Conference which was held in 1962 in Thailand and saw my mum Rathie Selvaratnam in the group photograph. As you may remember Mum was an active member and ambassador for the Least Coin Fellowship from Sri Lanka to Australia.

She is standing on the 3rd row 6th from the left. It brought tears to my eyes and memories of Aunty Shanthi and Aunty Ma working together in so many projects. Thank you for sharing.

Irene Thavarajah


This Herstory Blog of Australian Church Women Inc. tells the stories of the women and activities of this national Christian organisation that was founded in February 1965.

Stories that inspired and encouraged me to begin this blog and share their inspiration with you. Stories that need to be told so that the women of ACW can be honoured and celebrated for their achievements and experiences in local, national and international communities of faith. And, most importantly, stories that demonstrate being disciples of Jesus Christ firmly underpins all that Australian Church Women represents.

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