Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Barbecuing for international aid

Deniliquin's Erin Smith and Taylah Cook are preparing to work alongside Souith African community leaders to improve education, income and living standards.

CASS SAVELLIS July 9, 2014 8:30am

Taylah Cook and Erin Smith are ready to barbecue for a cause.

Local university students Erin Smith and Taylah Cook will lend a hand to struggling South African communities as part of an International Student Volunteers program in November.

The pair will travel the African country from November 21 to December 6 working alongside community leaders to improve education, income and community living standards.

Taylah, a law student at Deakin University Melbourne, said it was a snap decision to apply for the program.

‘‘As soon as Erin told me about the ISV program I knew I wanted to do it – I told her not to let me change my mind,’’ she said.

‘‘Then we had to apply and say why we’d be suited to the trip and what it meant to us. It’s going to be amazing, it will be a real eye opener.’’

Erin, who studies a Bachelor of Community Development at La Trobe University Bendigo, said foreign aid had always been a possible career path for her.

‘‘We will be working with children of extreme poverty and with the community,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s not a hand out – we are there to teach skills that can continue to be implemented after we’re gone.’’

To raise funds for the trip, which will cost about $5000 per person, Erin and Taylah are holding a host of fundraisers.

They kick off with a barbecue at Deniliquin Mitre 10 on July 26.

‘‘Mitre 10 has kindly donated the space, the barbecue and utensils for us to use on the day,’’ Erin said.

‘‘IGA and Josh’s Bakehouse are donating the sausages and bread.

‘‘The support shown in the early stages of our fundraising efforts has been truly remarkable ... it says a lot about our community members and local businesses.’’

The girls will also participate in a ‘week without’, each giving up three things deemed necessary in Western society.

‘‘Our ‘week without’ will involve Taylah and I identifying three things that are seen as necessities in Western society which in the grand scheme of things aren’t that important – social media, artificial sugar and my personal car, and Taylah will go without television,’’ Erin said.

‘‘At home you get so caught up in what you think are everyday needs and this trip will show just how different our ‘essentials’ are to those living in poverty,’’ Taylah said.

People can support the pair by contacting Taylah on 0408693604 or

You can follow their efforts through their Facebook page,

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