ACT News

Canberra lawyer to trek Ethiopia's Simien Mountains in support of UNICEF child protection

Canberra solicitor Brodie Williams has personally raised more than $8000 for UNICEF's child justice programs to trek the incredibly challenging Simien Mountains, alongside armed protection and medical assistance.

Almost 50 DLA Piper Global Law Firm staff (just six from Australia), will set off on October 2 to attempt the six day hike to 4430 metres above sea level, walking up to ten hours a day.

"We'll have two doctors with us because altitude affects you at about 3000 metres and we're going up even higher than that... and the terrain is really rocky and steep and off the trail so there's no path or anything," Ms Williams explained.

"We also have two armed riflemen coming with us because apparently there's a lot of vicious wildlife."

DLA Piper, a global partner with UNICEF, has pledged to raise $1.5 million in cash over five years and support them with $5 million of Pro Bono assistance. The funds will help UNICEF protect children in Bangladesh who come into contact with the law. It's a cause close to Ms Williams' heart, as she's been working on projects that support research into child marriage – a common practice in Bangladesh.

"Unfortunately it's happening to children as young as five, it's so sad," Ms Williams said.

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"I've got the best family in the world and I value that more than anything and that's why I think what UNICEF is doing is so important, because these children don't have that tight unit. They are married off into someone else's family and often these people don't care and it's not a love relationship, it's a commercial transaction."

While acknowledging she's about to embark on a life-changing experience, she said the sheer generosity and support the community has shown throughout her preparation has already changed her life.

Individual friends donated up to $300 each, her colleagues continually bought lunches she cooked, and she raised thousand of dollars at an African fashion show her firm helped her organise.

"It's restored my faith in humanity."

She said the regular training of walking, running, weight training and Bikram yoga have forced her to make time for herself amidst working extremely long hours. On weekends she's been enduring six hour treks on either one day or both days, allowing for a lot of introspection and mindfulness.

"I'm so grateful for the friends who've been willing to come trekking with me... I'm really outdoorsy but this is something completely different for me.

And I'm fitter and healthier than I've ever been."

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