Catherine's gap year trip to Cambodia

At 17, it is fair to say that many of us did not even know how to look after ourselves, let alone how to take care of other people. But a Norfolk teenager is planning on helping not just one extra person but an entire village when she heads off to a remote area of Cambodia.

At 17, it is fair to say that many of us did not even know how to look after ourselves, let alone how to take care of other people.

But a Norfolk teenager is planning on helping not just one extra person but an entire village when she heads off to a remote area of Cambodia.

Catherine Sutherland is hoping to use her gap year before university to undertake social work and help teach children on behalf of the educational charity Project Trust - but first she needs to raise £4,480 to enable her to go.

“I am not trying to save the world but I am proud to be given the chance to bring a little help and happiness to a needy community,” said Catherine, who is studying A-levels at the Hewett Sixth Form in Norwich.


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“My parents have always encouraged me to be interested in the wider world but there is so much out there I know nothing about.”

She has already raised about £1,400, mostly through family donations and is planning various fundraising events including cycling from Lands End to John O'Groats with friends.

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Catherine attended a selection course in the Isle of Coll, where Project Trust is based, which specialises in volunteers aged 17-19, and was able to test her outdoor skills and her teaching ability.

“It took 12 hours to get to Oban and I stayed overnight before taking the three hour ferry across to Coll,” she said.

There were three main areas Catherine was interested in volunteering in, South Africa, Bolivia and Cambodia.

“Since I heard that I have been chosen for Cambodia I have been researching the country. It has been through the wars but I am really excited to have the chance to go there. I am a little bit frightened as well because it will all be new but they have reps there and I will be partnered with someone who will live in the same village as me for the year. There will also be other volunteers in Cambodia,” said Catherine, who has been on school exchanges but nothing like this trip before.

She plans to go in September after her A-levels and is hopeful she will be able to get the money together in time.

She said: “I had considered doing the normal gap year thing of travelling around but the chance to totally immerse myself in a different culture for a year is an incredible opportunity. I feel that cultural knowledge and linguistic development are vastly important.”

If you would like to help her email Catherine.sutherland@yahoo.com.

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