Some people are born to do great things. AUT nursing student Alannah Wesche is one of them.
The dynamic 20 year old not only juggles her nursing studies with a part-time job looking after a young woman with Downs Syndrome, she’s also the driving force behind GEE Nepal, a New Zealand charity focused on empowering girls through education.
Alannah and her small team have facilitated scholarships for 60 underprivileged girls across Nepal, covering the costs of their school fees, stationery, uniforms and tiffin ('tiffin' is an Indian English word for a type of meal), all the way through to the end of high school.
“Current statistics show 54 girls are trafficked over the border into India every day, and 200,000 of them are in sex brothels there,” says Alannah. “Most of these girls didn’t have the opportunity to go to school. GEE targets those most vulnerable, empowering them to have a meaningful future by enabling them to get an education.”
Alannah’s passion for helping others was sparked when at the age of 13 she hit rock bottom, suffering from an eating disorder and severe depression.
“Eventually I realised the only way to get out of it was to look beyond myself and focus on others. I started volunteering at a local rest home and it turned out to be my road to recovery. It taught me the beauty of giving, and the huge impact it can have – not just for the person receiving, but also for you.”
A Year 11 school trip to Cambodia cemented her aspirations.
“It opened my eyes to poverty and I came back a changed person. I thought 'I’ve seen it now, I have to do something about it'. That’s why I decided to study nursing at AUT so that eventually I can set up medical clinics in third world countries.”
As it has turned out, AUT has been a pivotal part of her journey.
“I myself am an AUT scholarship recipient. The scholarship has opened up so many opportunities for me, it’s insane. Because the cost of my education is covered, I can funnel all my personal money into furthering the work I do in Nepal. One hundred percent of donations to GEE go directly to the girls - I cover all my own expenses such as flights to and from Nepal and accommodation.”
Not only has the Vice-Chancellor’s Significant Student Scholarship freed her up financially to focus on her work, it has also opened the doors to an entire network of fellow AUT scholars, all passionate about making a difference. The AUT Exec team is comprised of AUT scholarship recipients who want to give back. Together they raise funds through events and activities, distributing their efforts to meaningful causes.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the support from AUT. When I told them about GEE, they got behind it immediately. Last year the AUT exec made a donation, and this year they nominated GEE as one of their chosen charities to fund raise for. Their generosity has made a huge difference, enabling us to empower even more Nepalese girls through education.”
Not one to rest on her laurels, Alannah has big plans for GEE.
“We support 60 girls now, but I want to grow that to hundreds. A lot of people just wait for the perfect time to arrive, but it’s actually really easy to help. Just follow your passion and do it!”
For more information or to donate to GEE, visit the GEE Nepal website
A gift to AUT empowers our students and supports our social mission to provide accessible education.
There are lots of ways you can make a difference to the lives of students like Alannah.