A YOUNG South Lakeland woman wants to raise money to help the community of a "paradise" island.

Nineteen-year-old Sophie Labat, from Kendal, is seeking to raise £2,300 to volunteer at the island nation of Fiji in July.

"No-one ever hears about the problems in Fiji, the attention is mainly on India and Africa. People just see this paradise," she said. "It might be a beautiful country but there's a need for help and things need to be done."


Sophie, who studies fashion marketing at University of Leeds, wants to volunteer with Think Pacific, an organisation which seeks to make a difference to lives of children living in hardship on South Pacific islands.

Although Fiji is synonymous with its tropical beaches and beautiful islands, the reality is that over one third of the nation's population lives in poverty.

Schools in Fiji are understaffed and severely lacking in basic resources.

Less than 5% of children have access to early education and extra-curricular activities are non-existent.

The money paid for the Think Pacific expedition goes directly towards providing vital resources, books, teaching materials and sports equipment.

It helps fund large-scale building projects such as school classrooms, fresh water access and supports remote hospitals and clinics with supplies.

Scholarships, training courses and apprenticeships for Fijian children are also funded.

Accompanied by a team from her university, Sophie will be volunteering at the island for four weeks.

Upon arrival, she will work with a small team to deliver sports workshops, as well as an intense education programme with lessons in arts, drama, young enterprise, health awareness projects and reading schemes to elevate the children's confidence and self-esteem.

The team that visited in 2016 helped improve the children’s literacy rate by 40%.

Besides her fundraising online, Sophie has climbed Helvellyn, Old Man of Coniston and Scafell Pike in three consecutive days, and packed bags at M&S to raise money for her island adventure.

"I am so lucky to have an opportunity like this and to make a long lasting difference to families in Fiji. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me," Sophie said. "All donations are gratefully accepted."

Visit Sophie's fundraising page at: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sophie-labat-1