Polly Cocker has decided that the tropical rainforest in Malaysian Borneo is the perfect setting for her gap year.
The former student at the International School of the Algarve in Porches has volunteered with Raleigh, an international charity, and is currently fundraising for them in the Algarve.
“I knew I wanted to go abroad and volunteer in my gap year and Raleigh seemed like the perfect choice,” Polly, 17, told the Algarve Resident.
“They are a well-established charity so I know the money I raise is being spent in the host community and making a sustainable difference.”
Raleigh was set up 25 years ago and to date has sent around 30,000 volunteers on expeditions to remote communities abroad.
Its aim is to improve the environment and quality of life of the local people in the communities where they run expeditions, and to make a lasting difference on the lives of their volunteers too.
“All the volunteers I have heard from, who have been on expeditions with Raleigh before, said they had the time of their lives,” said Polly, “but being a venturer is definitely a challenge. It will be tough spending seven weeks in the rainforest with no home comforts and only really primitive facilities.
“I’m not looking forward to the long-drop-toilet or trekking in the pouring rain but I know what I’ve signed up for and I’m really excited!”
Gap year venturers with Raleigh can go to Malaysian Borneo, India or Costa Rica and Nicaragua. “I’m going on a seven-week expedition so will take part in a community project and adventure challenge,” said Polly. “There will be a group of 12 to 15 people on each project, whom I will meet out there.”
The community project will involve building something for the local community, like a kindergarten, which Raleigh will then carry on maintaining after the volunteers have left.
“On the adventure phase, we will have to trek unaided for 10 days carrying essentially my life on my back!” she said.
Raleigh has set Polly a fundraising target of 2,250 pounds sterling (around 2,470 euros) that she must meet by December 15 in order to go on the expedition next February.
“This amount doesn’t include my flights, kit or vaccinations. I have to raise money for that separately,” Polly said, adding that she is hoping to raise more money by getting involved in her old school community.
“It would be great if more students in the Algarve went on gap year expeditions like this.
To help Polly by donating, please visit www.justgiving.com/pollycocker
For more information about Raleigh, please visit www.raleighinternational.org