Board Member challenge raises funds
KU Alumni Connect Winter 2022 Edition
In her appeal for support, Tamara set up a GoFundraise page and shared her motivation for fundraising.
“Access to high-quality early education holds the greatest potential for improved outcomes for kids. Sadly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids are twice as likely as other children to be developmentally vulnerable when they start school,” Tamara said.
“Providing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with access to quality early childhood education is one way to help address this issue,” said Tamara.
Alumni Connect were lucky to speak to Tamara about her experience and share the highs and lows here.
I must confess I didn't come up with the idea, it was one of my friends. She thought that because we're all busy with life and we rarely connect as a group of women friends, it would be an opportunity for us to get together, share some quality time and get fit at the same time.
To begin with, I was reluctant. I had negative memories of hiking and camping as a Scout and didn’t want to do it again. I quite like the comfort of my bed! I was also concerned about the time factor. I have a young child, I work full time and balance my community responsibilities. I wondered how on earth am I going to fit this in? But my girlfriends convinced me otherwise and that’s how it started.
A guided walk wasn’t the vibe we wanted - we decided we were too young to be doing that! We got the guidebook and figured it out ourselves. The Overland Track is great to do independently, so you really don't need a guide. The biggest challenge was having to carry all the gear. We did see a few people on guided tours and felt quite jealous that they could walk without the weight on their back. A bonus from my Scouting days was knowing the best hiking gear to get for us all. I loved that side of it.
I'm on the KU Board and a member of the KUMBF Committee. I feel very passionately about what we're doing and the funds we're raising to support early education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. I contribute a lot of my time to KU and thought, how can I leverage what I do generate support. I wanted to make more of an impact, share the story with others and offer an opportunity for people to contribute to a worthwhile cause that I believe in. I feel you can sometimes raise money for a charity and not necessarily have the understanding, knowledge or comfort of where the money's going or the impact it will make. So that was what drove me to start community fundraising for KUMBF.
The physical training was a big thing. I decided if I was going to do it, I had to train for it because otherwise I wouldn’t be ready. I converted the time I’d normally spend with friends to walking with them. I also walked around the city with my backpack loaded with water to get used to the weight. There I was, pounding the pavements with my backpack and people would stop me and ask, “where are you going, what are you doing?” Sometimes they’d tell me that they had done the trek and they would give me lots of advice. I discovered that people I'd known for years liked bushwalking and suddenly were lending me hiking gear which was lovely because it’s expensive.
My neighbours thought I was hilarious, but it actually helped with the fundraising because they’d see me and ask what I was doing. I put in a lot of time preparing physically and I have to say it went well even with the COVID situation at the time. I was concerned that I wouldn’t be fit enough. In the end I was which was a relief.
The walk was in a beautiful part of Tasmania and, to tell you truth, I didn’t do much to mentally prepare. Probably the hardest part was getting through each day when you're tired and absolutely physically exhausted. I don't think I've done anything as physically challenging as that for a very long time. It was really hard, but I was determined to do it.
What got me through each day was the extraordinary scenery. I can't even explain how beautiful it is. The other thing was being with my girlfriends. I loved the opportunity of the time we got to share with each other. We all have busy lives and the camaraderie helped.
Women are amazing. There were times when someone in the group would be struggling and everyone came together to help each other. We had a few funny times, like people falling over in the mud, or the moment when I suddenly realised that a clip on my backpack was actually a whistle. The next minute you know the whole group starts blowing their whistles.
The trek encompassed six days of hiking and five nights in huts or camping. The hut on the first night was gorgeous, like out of a design magazine, beautiful and unlike the others on the way. They’re all shared dormitory style environments and warm. There are a lot of people and it can get noisy, lots of snoring, rustling of mats and all the rest of it, so it has its pluses and minuses. We were fortunate to have fantastic weather and only two nights of heavy rain. I chose to camp out mostly because it was a quieter and being out in nature was lovely. I always slept well after carrying that 19kg pack and being so physically exhausted.
We worked in pairs to organise the food and gear we needed for the six days. I was lucky that the girlfriend I paired with is an incredible cook. I am forever grateful for the most exceptional exquisite homemade, dehydrated meals she prepared for the two of us.
We also got to swim at some of the most beautiful waterfalls, which was a real highlight. It was freezing cold, but when you've got nowhere to shower, it becomes very attractive to jump into a large body of water. With all the mosses and babbling brooks I felt like I was in a fairy tale story. It was exceptional and when we finished, we treated ourselves to a couple of special nights in a lovely hotel in Hobart.
I love the community spirit around hiking. I hadn't experienced or expected to find that which was fantastic. Now I’ve got the gear, I like the idea of doing more walking and convincing my family to come with me.
To be honest, when I started, I was anxious about it because I didn't want to make people feel like they had to donate or that they owed me something. What I realised though is that people want to give, they actually want to help worthwhile causes.
On the first night of the trek, the girls asked me why I was doing it. They were fascinated to learn about KUMBF and why we need to support early education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids and their families. I think there's a lot of compassion in people and a lot of passion to help but often people don't know how. Giving them a platform to help is giving them an opportunity to donate. I certainly never implied that anyone had to give or made anyone feel that they should, but a lot of them did. I was really surprised at how much I was able to raise and it's all down to my friends and family. They really stepped up and it was nice to see.
For anyone thinking of fundraising in their community, I’d say give it a go. It's rewarding and people want to give to show their support. KUMBF is a great cause because the money goes to where it is needed and delivers outcomes.
I feel great and I'm proud that I finished it. It was physically hard and I was very tired at the end, but it was a great personal achievement and made even better by the fact that I was helping KUMBF at the same time. I feel proud of the money I've raised, and I look forward to it being used to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families.
Also, for me, it was important to put that time aside, to explore that beautiful part of Tasmania, to do it with friends and have fun. It was interesting being a part of a group of 12 women, and although I didn't know everyone, we talked and talked like a flock of birds walking through the bush! I found it empowering, having conversations where you learn about things and be with interesting, strong women talking about their lives and ideas, about our kids, our work. My cup was filled by all these amazing women doing amazing things. It really was a lovely experience.
Congratulations Tamara and many thanks to all the people who donated to support you and KUMBF.
If you’d like to fundraise in your community, head to www.gofundraise.com.au and search for ‘KU Children’s Services (KU Marcia Burgess Foundation)’ to set up your own fundraising page. For further information or assistance, contact email@example.com