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MaD spider dare raises cash for NGO

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Aussie volunteer Kylie Dawson eats a fried tarantula to raise funds for the Making a Difference NGO. Photo by: MICHAEL SLOAN

NEWLY arrived Australian volunteer Kylie Dawson went above and beyond the call of duty last Friday when she consumed a fried tarantula to raise funds for Siem Reap-based NGO, Making a Difference (MaD).

MaD founder Phillip Starling told 7Days he organised the fundraiser after a Facebook discussion about spiders being a Cambodian delicacy prompted several of Dawson’s friends to offer her money in exchange for eating one.

“When I saw that people were prepared to put money down to see it, I said to her, ‘Why not turn it into a sponsored event?’”

After sourcing five tarantula spiders in nearby Kampong Cham province, Starling arranged for the arachnids to be fried and seasoned by chefs at the Me Eatery on Airport Road.

Dawson, who is taking two weeks vacation from her job at a law firm in Melbourne to volunteer with MaD, said the stunt has attracted between $1000 and $3000 in pledges for the organisation.

“I just keep thinking about what the money is going towards. A few squeamish moments over something that everyone in Cambodia eats is well worth it,” she said. “But I don’t think I’ll be doing that again. I’m only here for two weeks so I’m cramming everything in and eating spiders is one of them, unfortunately.”

The money raised by Dawson and funds from a number of picnic fundraisers held in Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and Hobart last weekend will be used to fund health and sanitation projects in Pouk district where MaD has been active since 2007.

Another aspect of MaD’s work involves running the Me Eatery which started in March 2010 as Cambodia’s first donation-only restaurant with an exotic menu featuring Asian, African and Khmer fusion cuisine.

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