As the Australian Brand Ambassador for high profile fashion label Forever 21, seventeen year old Natalia Siam is a fast rising star in the world of modelling.
The leggy 175cm blond beauty has budding career most teenage girls can only dream about.
But Natalia Van der Brugge has her sights set on loftier goals.
“When I finish school I don’t want to be a model. I plan to study paramedicine”, she says. “I want to help people in need and seeing the work of the Fred Hollows’ doctors and staff I am inspired to do the same”.
Natalia is known in the modelling world by her nom de plume Natalia Siam, due to her love of Thailand where she went to school for several years and at a young age became involved in supporting charities with her mother Carmen.
Today she attends school in Sydney, Australia, works on regular modelling assignments and in her spare time helps to promote the Fred Hollows Foundation.
Her efforts so far include donating the proceeds of her self-written and deeply personal children’s book about school bullies.
“Since becoming an official fundraiser for the Fred hollows foundation, I wanted to understand how much of an impact not being able to see would have on my motion skills”.
As a result of this curiosity, Natalie will spend a full day discovering what it means to be blind. She will don a pair of Fred Hollows shades, totally cover her eyes and embark on a range of activities.
The day will include navigating her home environment, arts & crafts and normally simple tasks like putting on make-up, “It’s one thing to read about blindness but it’s another thing altogether to experience it.”
The team at Fred Hollows is keen to see the results too and will film with Natalia for the day and document her efforts on video.
“We are hoping to reach out a younger audience and educate teenagers about the world wide efforts undertaken by the Fred Hollows Foundation”, says Nick Martin, Director of Public Affairs for the Fred Hollows Foundation.
“Much of our work restoring sight to the blind through pioneering eye surgery is focused on children and young people. It’s important that other young people in better circumstances understand those efforts and maybe look more towards a better future for everyone.”
Natalia has over 1,000 followers on Linkedin, more than 22,000 on Facebook and around 40,000 on Instagram.
That’s a powerful reach for a Sydney schoolgirl who wants to help the less fortunate.
Natalia’s “Blind for a Day” video will be released via her social network platform and other media.
“When I started helping the Fred Hollows Foundation I was shocked to learn that 4 out of 5 people who are blind don’t have to be so,” she says.
“It only takes $25 for the operation and from then on, not be dependent on someone for the rest of your life. I think that’s remarkable and I hope I can inspire people to really open their eyes and do more”.