USC students tackle mountains to help Cambodian girls reach uni

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USC students tackle mountains to help Cambodian girls reach uni

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Published on 11 September 2012

11 September 2012

Two female students at the University of the Sunshine Coast are going to great heights to give poverty-stricken girls and women in Cambodia a chance to study at university and escape the clutches of human trafficking.

Rachele Wilson, 24, and Samantha Willcocks, 23, plan to climb Mount Ngungun, Mount Tibrogargan, Mount Coolum, Mount Cooroora and Mount Tinbeerwah from Friday 28 September to Sunday 30 September to raise funds for Australian charity Free to Shine.

This organisation provides education scholarships to children and women in Cambodia who have been rescued from or identified as “at risk” of sex slavery and human trafficking.

Arts/Science student Samantha — who regularly climbs peaks in her home town of Glass House Mountains — said the mountain climbing challenge could metaphorically represent the achievements of Cambodian women.

“Mountain climbing symbolises the hard slog of getting a university degree. Once these women are at the top and have qualified, they have the power to change their communities,” Samantha said.

“These women will graduate as social workers, teachers and lawyers and actually help change what is happening in their country, like human trafficking and sex slavery.”

Rachele, who is studying Science at USC, said it cost as little as $3,000 to fund an entire university degree in Cambodia.

“I think it’s disgusting what happens over there to women and children and it really doesn’t take much time or money to change someone’s life,” she said. “Being a mother myself, it really pulls at the heartstrings and I just want these girls to have a future.”

Samantha said subjects like Sociology at USC had enabled her to examine what Australia’s social responsibilities were in helping other nations.

“We learn how to critique our society and, in some ways, it’s our fault that things are so messed up in some other countries,” she said.

The duo is looking for people to sponsor them or join them in their climbing efforts. For more details go to www.tinyurl.com/5mountainsin3days.

— Michelle Widdicombe

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