Trek for Girls with Plan International Australia
Every day, girls are denied their rights. They often can’t go to school, earn a living and are at greater risk of violence in their communities. Girls are more likely to suffer from malnutrition; be forced into an early marriage; be sold or coerced into the sex trade; or become infected with HIV.
This is unjust – and it also deprives girls of the opportunity to reach their full potential and contribute in their community.
The Trek for Girls: Sri Lanka 2018 is your opportunity to be part of the movement to change the world for girls.
The Trek for Girls is an 11-day adventure to the heart of Sri Lanka. The challenge – 53 KMS trekking over four days – comes with incredible views of the verdant Sri Lankan hills, tea plantations and lush rainforests. You’ll witness a Sri Lankan sunrise erupt in the sky from Adam’s Peak, take a breathtaking train ride to Haputale and visit Maduru Oya National Park for a thrilling safari.
You’ll also have the incredible opportunity to visit and take part in a project visit, to see first hand Plan’s work in the local community near the historic village of Batticaloa
This is more than an adventure; it’s a chance to be part of a movement to change the world for girls. Join today and help unleash the power of girls!
Trek for Girls with Plan International Australia
The money you raise goes directly into Plan International’s Girls Fund, which helps empower girls to change the world. $3,500 can provide vocational training courses for up to eight young women.
We want a future where all girls are empowered to change the world. We know that when you educate and empower girls, the whole world benefits. When girls are healthy, educated and earning they lift themselves, their children and their communities out of poverty.
Yet every day, girls are denied their rights – that’s why girls are a major focus of Plan International’s work. Too often, girls can’t go to school, earn a living and are at greater risk of violence in their communities.
Be part of a movement. Money raised for Girls Fund helps unleash the incredible potential of girls.
Trek for Girls with Plan International Australia
Dates: 1 March – 11 March 2018
Registration fee: $770 (non-refundable)
Fundraising target: $3,500 (excludes travel)
Travel cost: $4,050*, including taxes
Trip duration: 11 days
Challenge duration: 4 days
Accommodation: 3 star hotels and lodges
Minimum age: 18 (younger ages considered on application)
*subject to change
Trek for Girls with Plan International Australia
As soon as you register, your dedicated fundraising team will work with you to create a comprehensive and personalised fundraising plan. Your fundraising coordinator will contact you regularly with ideas, advice, encouragement and plenty of inspiration!
In addition to this personalised support, you will receive the Fundraising Toolkit. We have supported more than 4,000 people in reaching their fundraising goals in the past and the Toolkit is a compilation of the most successful ideas, case studies, advice and practical suggestions to help you reach yours.
1. Want to learn more? Enter your details in the form to instantly receive your information pack.
2. Ready to register? Click on the Register Now button to secure your spot on the team.
3. Questions? Give us a call on 1300 905 188.
ADVENTURE BLOG: 1-11 March 2018
Team Plan has arrived in the beautiful city of Colombo! All the training and fundraising efforts have brought us to this monumental moment. We are finally here!
We took it easy for the first day, as the majority of the team landed late in the evening. Once everyone gathered, they were transferred to their first accommodation in Colombo. It was a quick check-in at 1:00am and then it was straight to bed.
The team got some much-needed shut-eye before tomorrow’s city tour and long transfer to Adam’s Peak.
Today was our first full day here in Sri Lanka. After some breakfast, we took the time to get more acquainted. The team was made up of different backgrounds and occupations yet we’re all passionate about the rights of others, particularly children. We learnt that everyone sought out an adventure that was truly meaningful. They were all after a challenge, that could make a real life-changing difference in the lives of young girls. As we got to learn more about each other, we were pleased to be in the company of likeminded individuals. By then it was clear, everyone was here for the same reason.
It was then time to set off on our short Colombo city tour. Luckily the early morning rain cleared so we explored the busy Pettah markets. We stopped in awe of temples and we couldn’t resist picking up some freshly cooked cassava chips along the way. Back on the bus, our wonderful Head Guide, Chan pointed out some of Colombo’s long-standing Dutch and British colonial buildings.
Making our way out of the busy city streets of Colombo, we began to drive up the lush green hills to Adam’s Peak. After our very skilled driver maneuvered us through the winding roads, we stopped for lunch at Kitulgala village. Here we enjoyed our first real Sri Lankan meal. We helped ourselves to a beautiful selection of curries, noodles and rice. Highlights were definitely the coconut sambal, long bean greens, and breadfruit curry. The crowd favourite had to be the creamy and spicy breadfruit curry!
We finally arrived at our hotel and check-in for an early night’s sleep. Tomorrow will be the most challenging part of the adventure as we set our alarms to wake up at 1:00am.
It was an early start for team Plan. We woke up at 1:00am to begin our climb to Adam’s Peak. It was the day the team felt most nervous for. The thought of climbing Adam’s Peak, motivated the countless hours of training. It felt surreal to be faced with the most challenging part of our adventure.
We were about to take on 7km of 5,500 steps with hundreds of other pilgrims. The crowds were bigger than usual, as it was the full moon holiday over the weekend. On the Hatton route, we passed numerous tea houses and many, many stairs. There were moments when some of the participants felt the need to turn back, but everyone persevered and carried on.
One of brave trekkers Amala said, “It was actually very humbling to be in amidst of a pilgrimage like this. Women barefoot carrying their newborns, the elderly being helped one step at a time by a family member, a hunched over old man, hobbling with one leg.” The pilgrimage welcomed all and it was the challenge we all signed up for.
By 4:30am the path became extremely crowded and forced us to climb at a very steady pace. We were less than a kilometre from the top, however not enough people were coming down to make way for us on-coming trekkers. We could only move a couple steps every few minutes until the 6:22am sunrise. Despite not reaching the top we still enjoyed an awe-inspiring sight. Patiently waiting on the steps, we gazed upon the bright orange and yellow lights delicately piercing through the misty purple backdrop. The endless rows of the colourful international Buddhist flags hanging above us beckoned all the way to the top of the peak. It became apparent that reaching the top wasn’t a possibility. We couldn’t wait any longer in the haltering queue. Despite not reaching the top, sharing the journey with thousands of pilgrims, made it so worth our while!
After breakfast and a quick freshen up we were off to our first Sri Lankan train ride. Just before we hopped on the train, Chan taught us about the history of their famous tea plantations. First introduced to the Kandian hills in the 1860s, today Sri Lanka’s black tea is ranked no.1 in the world for quality.
It was then time for our train ride to Haputale. The ride offered some of the most stunning views of Hatton’s landscapes and vast tea fields.
We finally ended this long and proud day at a lovely eco-lodge. It was a day we’d never forget!
We woke up feeling the soreness in our calves and thighs. It was a reminder of our mammoth first day of trekking. We spent the morning stretching our backs and legs, to prepare ourselves for yet another day of trekking. Before we started our next physical challenge, I presented Kerry and Kia appreciation bands, for their efforts from yesterday’s climb. Kerry, not only had to climb up thousands of steps, but also persevered through a painful migraine from the recent flight. There were moments when her body wanted to give in, yet she pushed on to the highest point we could reach. Just like her spirit animal, she channeled the fierce determination of a tiger. Kai, was the only trekker of our team to make it to the top of Adam’s Peak. However, just like a cheeky monkey, Kai passed the crowds by jumping over to the exit lane. Nevertheless, he continued to wait longer than anyone else and he eventually made it to the top.
Here’s what Kerry thought about the rest of the day…
After a substantial breakfast, we picked up our local guide and travelled to a nearby national park to embark on our next trek – approximately 12 kms through jungle-type vegetation (a few of the group had to de-leech themselves along the way!), eucalypt forests and tea plantations. We kept an eye out for monkeys, giant squirrels and barking deer and kept our wits about us as we made our way along narrow paths with sheer drops down on one side. We walked along the train tracks for a while, through a tunnel and then stopped at a small tea stall for coffee and tea and “spicy bites” – like Burger Rings but far superior in flavour and texture.
As we made our way through the tea plantation the mist began to roll in giving the scenery an ethereal quality. We were walking through a bio-plantation, which meant all practices were ecologically sustainable with no pesticides or weedicides used. Hence, the plantation itself was not as ordered or manicured as other tea plantations, but full of lush and healthy vegetation. The workers live within the plantation in small villages, raising their families and earning their living. We walked amongst their homes, where we were met with friendly smiles and greetings. The children in particular were incredibly excited to see us – kids that clearly had nothing, living in abject poverty by our standards, but they seemed so relaxed and happy. A couple of the little boys had a piece of wood for a cricket bat and faded red plastic ball – they love cricket of course.
At the end of our trek, calves and thighs groaning, we made our way by mini-bus to an even more sensationally located hotel called World’s End Hotel. Set into the mountains, 1440m above sea level and with a spring water pool, the surroundings were spectacular.
Another day in paradise! Kim and Stacy started their day with some yoga as they looked out to the scenic oasis. Taking in deep breaths, as the crisp air filled our lungs. The mystic mountain views couldn’t have offered a better backdrop to stretch our weary limbs. Muscles still sore, we went off to our third trek of the adventure.
Once again we picked up our wonderful local guide Saraga from the town centre to make our way to the Bambara Kanda waterfalls. We began our trek through more tea plantations west of Haputale. Climbing the steep road of the ‘devil’s staircase’, briefly took us back to the memories of Adam’s Peak. The well-defined dirt roads soon turned into narrow paths through the Montane grasslands. Long bright grass brushed our strides at every step. Everyone made sure to pause and look up at the cloud forest in the distance. From the grassland to the Bambara Kanda forest – we were stunned by every view. Kim said, “one of the highlights of today’s trek was sharing a field of butterflies fluttering alongside us as we walked. It was truly magical. We all felt it was a special moment”. As we approached the pine and gum tree forest, we felt small looking up at them towering over us. Each turn was different and spectacular. Finally, we had arrived at the tallest waterfall in the country. Sitting below the falls the team watched the water glisten from the gentle sun.
Only a short walk from the falls, the team stopped by Sagara‘s house. It was an absolute pleasure to witness Sagara’s sister cook spicy orange dal over an open wood fire. The room soon filled with the aromas of garlic, chill, onion and fragrant pandan. While the dal continued to boil, we helped ourselves to a spread of local dishes prepared earlier by our generous host. Everything was delicious! The red rice, long green beans, spicy coconut sambal, potato curry, coconut dal and crispy poppadoms – it was the best meal so far!
Next stop was Nuwara Eliya, also known as ‘little England’. After a quick shower, we explored the night markets of this vibrant town. After the beautiful home cooked meal, Dean was overjoyed to have picked up some curry and masala powder that night.
Today, we could finally rest our bodies during a transfer across the country to Plan’s Project Visit Briefing in Batticaloa. It was a long-awaited day for these child sponsors. For most, it was their first opportunity to witness Plan’s work on the ground. Some of their sponsorships date back to the late 90s.
On the way to the Program Office, we stopped by for some tea and coffee alongside a peaceful lakeside restaurant. Preparing ourselves for a long transfer, we stocked up on local ‘bites’ from the convenience store across the road. We excitedly nibbled and wondered at the packets of Jiggle Wiggle, Hot Mix, and Smart Cream Crackers!
Chan pointed out the piles of bright orange corn laid out to dry on several front lawns. We couldn’t help ourselves and picked up a few burnt and boiled corns along the way. Our curious bus continued to drive pass colourful markets, farmlands of roaming cattle and endless fields of rice paddies.
After our 5 hour transfer, we helped ourselves to another serving of curries and rice. Each city offered a slight variation to their national dishes – all delightful!
It was then time to meet the incredible Plan workers on the ground. The team was greeted by project leaders, Raj, Srikanth and Joyti. They first introduced us to one of their training classes for young boys. Students dressed in blue coveralls, with Plan’s logo stitched across worked briskly, as they happily took apart motorcycles. It was important to ask the boys if they enjoyed what they were doing – they nodded and explained how this training will lead to future employment.
Overwhelmed with happiness, Kerry said “that’s where my money is going”, as she wiped tears from her eyes. Emotions were high only moments into the visit. It wasn’t hard to feel proud of a real life-changing difference the donations have made for young girls and boys.
After a short tour, project leaders, Raj and Srikanth took us through a briefing of tomorrow’s visit. They spoke about the implementation of vocational training practices for young girls and boys. The purpose of this program is to upskill students in highly demanded occupations. With the knowledge and skills gained, these children could secure more employment opportunities. They found that the biggest problem wasn’t the training, but the societal attitudes towards girls working in various professions. Traditionally, women are not always recognised or respected in the formal sector. Without intervention, the majority of these girls would find themselves staying at home or working in low-income garment factories.
It was humbling to learn so much from the people working on the frontlines of Plan’s projects. We felt well prepared for tomorrow’s project visit.
Guest blog by Elle
Today, the eve of International Women’s Day, Team Plan had the unique opportunity to visit Plan International’s Youth Economic Empowerment project in Batticaloa.
At around 9am the group set off to visit a technical institute that provides vocational training for young people aged 16-29. The aim of the project is to empower youth by providing them with the skills required to gain long-term employment in industries that are currently in demand. Unlike other VT courses, the training also focuses on developing soft skills, i.e communication, teamwork, problem-solving, punctuality, and provides on the job placements and post-program support for trainees to transition into employment. Finding suitable employment can be particularly challenging for girls due to barriers imposed on them by their parents and society around the types of work they can and can’t engage in. Gender equality and inclusion of people with disabilities are key areas of focus for the program.
Today we met with 8 young women participating in various courses supported by Plan International. We were able to hear from them directly about the challenges they face and their ambitions for the future.
Panusha, 21: “When I become a very good tailor I will start my own business to give jobs to my relatives and neighbours. When I get my first salary I’m going to buy my Mum a saree.”
After speaking to the participants it was clear that these young women are going places!
Our time in Batticaloa has come to an end. Meeting the girls was a lifelong dream for these Plan sponsors. It was an absolute honour to see what long-term support can accomplish. We left feeling utterly grateful to witness the work on the ground and everyone felt hopeful. There was certainly hope for a world better for girls.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, our itinerary changed for the next two days. We decided to cancel the last trek and depart for the ancient city Habarana instead. Despite the team looking forward to the last trek, we now had the opportunity to attend an afternoon safari. Asian elephants are more likely to come out in the afternoon to feed, so the changes meant we had a good chance to see a few elephants!
Straight after we checked in at our new accommodation, we set off to the Minneriya National Park. Hoping to get a glimpse of the beautiful giants, we excitedly jumped into two safari jeeps. It was a bumpy ride over uneven dirt roads. The road took us to an open field of grasslands, stretching over 88 km².
It was pleasing to see such an open space declared as a protected sanctuary. Amazingly, it didn’t take long to spot our first elephants! Parked at a safe distance, we stopped in awe, watching them graze peacefully. Their enormous trunks softly swaying against the grass beneath them, gathering enough food to feed themselves. Knowing the park was home to more than 200 elephants, we were also hoping to see a herd.
We continued on more uneven paths to a sight we that made everyone’s day. We eventually made our way to witness a herd of more than 100 elephants! We saw elephants of all different sizes. There were mothers, fathers, adolescents, and babies. Every family member was present. It was surreal to see so many in the wild at one time. Even the safari drivers said it was a rare sight. Again, we felt grateful to be a part of this unforgettable experience.