NUS team to join 250km desert trek

They hope to raise $100k for ST Pocket Money Fund

SEVEN intrepid students are preparing to trek 250km across the Gobi Desert to raise money for disadvantaged schoolchildren.

The two women and five men will trudge on foot through remote areas such as the Bortala Mongol and Yili Kazakh autonomous prefectures in China's north-western Xinjiang province.

They hope to raise $100,000 for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, which benefits needy children and their families.

"This race is going to take so much out of us - physically, mentally - so why not do something more worthwhile," said designated leader Nianjia Seow, 28.

The group, called the Tembusu GlobeTrekkers, will carry out their six-day mission in Asia's largest desert at the end of the month.

They are from Tembusu College at the National University of Singapore, which will be sending along its director of student affairs, Dr Kelvin Pang.

Two other teams, one from China and another from the United States and Canada, will also be taking part in the Gobi March 2013 foot race.

Dr Pang, 38, said the group hopes to stay true to its motto, "For youth, by youth", and inspire young Singaporeans to make positive changes.

So far, more than $10,000 has been raised.

"Education and helping the poor whenever we can was something we truly believed in," said team member Peien Tan, 21.

Since taking on the fund as their chosen charity, the students have been helping out regularly with the STep-Up programme where young beneficiaries of Whispering Hearts Family Service Centre receive coaching in English and current affairs once a week.

Team member David Hoe, 25, said they recruited volunteers from the university's U-Town campus to help.

The Tembusu GlobeTrekkers - whose members are aged 21 to 28 - will be the largest and youngest group taking part in the race, which is in its 10th year.

It will begin on June 2 near the foot of the Altai Mountains and end on June 8 at an undisclosed location.

Each member of the team has contributed $3,000 to cover expedition costs. Retailer The Planet Traveller will sponsor the equipment.

Those who wish to contribute while the trekkers are away can do so online at www.tembusu.nus.edu.sg/gobimarch/donate

rmytan@sph.com.sg