‘Helping one person at a time’: Launching The Flamingo Project 2.0

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The Flamingo Project: The mentorship program, started by Neha Samar, is celebrating its second batch of pairs with a celebratory event. Photo by Megan Fisher

When Neha Samar started The Flamingo Project, she didn’t expect it to grow to the extent it has.

The project was started in 2021 to connect women from all walks of life, to lift one another up.

“I really did not know it could turn out to be such a powerful thing,“ Mrs Samar said.

“Just to connect two people together and have something in place for them, to give them a reason basically or an excuse to just meet up and chat.”

Now launching its second batch of the mentorship program with five new pairs, the project is hosting an event to celebrate the women of the community ― The Flamingo Project 2.0.

Securing Khadija Gbla ― activist, entrepreneur and mentor among her many titles ― as keynote speaker at the event was a huge achievement, Mrs Samar said.

As a survivor of female genital mutilation, Ms Gbla has dedicated her life advocating against it and the devastating effects it has.

She is coming from South Australia to support the launch.

Shepparton local Brea Dorsett will also speak, addressing topics of gender equality and women empowerment through her own experiences of living through homelessness to now introducing a bill in state parliament.

The volunteer-run initiative began from Mrs Samar’s own personal experiences.

Moving to Shepparton she discovered it was more about “who you know, not what you know”.

“Having somebody to just help out with getting to know people, it sounds so simple but it's not,” she said.

“It is a very difficult pill to swallow for me because I put so much work into my education and in developing my professional strengths, but even then there was a struggle for me to find a job here.

“But it all got down to was how you networked and how you communicated with people, so it's a bittersweet sort of feeling.”

The first batch of the program saw 13 women from across a range of industries partake, some even having grown up in the area but searching for a way to network in a certain field.

“It has been a two-way street, the people have received a lot out of each other,” she said.

“One of the things that we keep mentioning again and again is when you want to join the program, you have you need to have the ability to learn and unlearn ― to open your mind to new things.”

The pairs begin by meeting once a fortnight for an hour at a time then transition into a self-led program.

“It’s really up to them to decide why they’re here, what they want to get out of the program and hope to achieve in the six months,” she said.

Mrs Samar along with three other volunteers have been running the whole program, only allowing for five pairs this round to ensure the utmost support is available.

She said the project was always looking for more volunteers to assist with social media and to expand their capacity.

“That’s my only constraint because the interest has been really great,” she said.

“Despite sounding very cliche, it’s helping one person at a time ― even if only one person gets something out of the program, it’s a win.”

The event will be hosted in partnership with the University of Melbourne and Frontline Human Resources.

The event is on July 30 at the University of Melbourne Department of Rural Health building. Tickets are free, register via

For information on volunteering and the program, visit