A young Kiwi woman has chosen to forgo the traditional Kiwi summer of beaches and barbeques for a Nepalese winter - in a fundraising effort to provide educational scholarships for girls in Sierra Leone.
Georgia Cassidy, 20, is currently on exchange at the City University of Hong Kong with the support of a Prime Minister's scholarship.
This Christmas Eve, in place of returning home to be with her family, the University of Auckland commerce and science student planned to embark on a sponsored 12-day trek up to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. She hoped to raise $2,100 to send seven Sierra Leone girls to school in the new year.
"I like the symbolism that I'm climbing for the opportunities that many don't have. I thought it could be cool if I use my scholarship as a way of helping others to get their education.
"Given that I would not be where I am without the help of others, I can think of no greater way to give back."
The money raised would go to the non-profit One Girl's educational scholarship programmes. Every $300 would provide a girl in Sierra Leone a year of education.
According to the non-profit a girl who is educated is three times less likely to contract HIV/AIDS, will marry later and have fewer, healthier children. In addition every year of extra income will increase by 10 to 25 per cent.
It has also said a girl born in Sierra Leone is more likely to be sexually assaulted than attend high school.
With the help of a local guide, Miss Cassidy will spend five to six hours a day walking the sponsored trek and planned to reach the base camp on the 1st of January.
All the money she spent on the trip would also go to the Nepalese community, which she said had been struggling with the reduced tourist traffic after the 7.8 earthquake earlier this year.
She admitted to being a little bit nervous, but more about the cold and the chance of getting altitude sickness.
She wasn't too worried about the physical trek, as it was a well-worn trail and she also spent each weekend in Hong Kong doing part of the 100km-long Malclehose Trail that winds through the area's more mountainous regions.
"I hope it's going to be achievable."
To help Georgia Cassidy educate a child in Sierra Leone go to: http://my.onegirl.org.au/georgia-cassidy
About One Girl
• An Australian-based organisation
• Its mission is to educate one million girls across Africa by 2020
• It is currently working in the Bombali, Tonkolili and Freetown districts of Sierra Leone