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Volunteer sets off on journey to end poverty

ROSE CAWLEY
Last updated 05:00 26/12/2012
Julie Zhu
BAGS PACKED: Auckland University student Julie Zhu, 20, has taken of to Kalimpong, India, to volunteer with P3.

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One young film student has a long trip ahead of her as she sets off to volunteer in India.

To get from Howick, Auckland, to Kalimpong, India, takes 17 hours by plane, another short domestic flight and a rough rural bus ride.

But for Julie Zhu it will all be worth it.

The 20-year-old is going to the Indian state of West Bengal to volunteer as part of the P3 delegation after she became involved in the non-profit organisation earlier in the year.

"When I started I didn't realise how big a deal it is. I thought it would be like doing a street appeal," she says.

"But then it ended up taking over my life - and I mean that in a really great way. I'm doing something so worthwhile."

P3 is a New Zealand youth-for-youth non-profit organisation that wants to end extreme poverty in the Asia Pacific region within this generation.

There are 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty in the world and Asia-Pacific has the highest number.

After Living Below The Line on $2.25 for two weeks, Julie says she has a better grasp of what to expect in Kalimpong which is situated in the Himalayas at an altitude of 1250 metres.

"I realised that there are so many things I had never considered. It is more than having no food, it is not having a choice about what you can eat or even when you can eat," she says. "We have seen pictures of what it is like over there but to be there and experience it is going to be completely different."

While there the delegation is tackling different issues which face the community and Julie is focusing on health and hygiene.

"We have learnt this hand washing song in hindi and other games and activities around hygiene to make it fun for the kids to learn.

"We don't want to go over there and tell them ‘this is what you have to do, you were wrong before, now do this because that's not how it is. We want to make it an enjoyable experience."

Other issues the group will be raising awareness on are rubbish and recycling as well as stressing the importance of education.

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- Eastern Courier

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