Katelyn’s on a mission to help Fijians

Katelyn Lyttle is calling for donations to help get her to Fiji in November with Volunteer Eco Students Abroad.
Katelyn Lyttle is calling for donations to help get her to Fiji in November with Volunteer Eco Students Abroad. Lee Gailer

WHO in their right mind signs up for hard labour for their holiday?

Katelyn Lyttle for one - and the Gympie State High School graduate of 2012 can't wait.

Katelyn, who started a Bachelor of Nursing Science at Sunshine Coast University this year, has been accepted into a program called Volunteer Eco Students Abroad (VESA) and, in December, will take part in a sustainable community development project in a remote Fijian village.

For a minimum of 40 hours in one week she will teach English and health and hygiene practices and will help renovate and revitalise village facilities with fresh coats of paint.

The VESA project will also see her installing new play equipment and assisting in the construction of bathrooms and water catchments.

Busy organising her trip between lectures, study and adjusting to uni life, Katelyn says while it's not something most people would choose to do in their holiday, she's looking forward to the challenge of her Fijian mission.

"It will be a lot out of my comfort zone because it will be physical labour and I know it's going to be hard," she said.

The program is above and beyond anything required of her nursing studies, but working with underprivileged communities throughout the world is one of her personal goals.

"My mum always says I want to save the world," she said.

"But I have a passion for people and once I've finished my degree, I want to go to countries like Fiji to help those in need.

"Mum and Dad are behind me in this but they're naturally concerned because I've never been out of Queensland before.

"But by participating in this program I feel as though I'm one step closer to helping others less fortunate than me.

"It will be a long, hard week but it will be worthwhile."

The cost of the trip, though, is quite expensive and, as a university student, Katelyn is unable to pay for her week of volunteering on her own.

Which is why she's seeking sponsorship to enable her to participate in the program.

"I'm hoping for donations of any amount, in particular from businesses, to allow me to participate in this wonderful opportunity," she said.


Help Fijians help themselves

Volunteer Eco Students Abroad managing director Tom Constable says while VESA is a volunteer organisation, it is not a registered charity, which means any donations towards Katelyn's trip will not be tax deductible.

He hopes, though, that will not stop anyone assisting Katelyn in her mission to help Fijians in need.

"Donations would greatly assist the program's vital community development project," he said.

"Katelyn and VESA will be working in conjunction with the villagers and village chief in addressing the major issues faced by the village and local schools, including a lack of fresh running water, dilapidated schools and generally poor infrastructure.

"By sponsoring Katelyn, you will be directly assisting with the costs involved in participating in the program.

"These costs are significant and include hiring local skilled trades people to supervise and assist in the building projects, building materials and donations to local organisations.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Katelyn to make a difference donating her time and energy into volunteering overseas this December."

For more information on the VESA program, visit the VESA website or phone 02 8005 6755.

Gympie Times

Topics:  editors picks fiji

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