Story & photo by Briar Babington - The Southland Times 3/12/2015
At just 23 years old, mountaineering twins Tashi and Nungshi Malik have achieved a lot more than the average person in their mid-twenties.
The twins have successfully summited the Seven Peaks, which includes Mount Everest, trekked to the North and South poles and completed many other death-defying climbs in their short careers.
Originally hailing from Dehradun in India, the now Southland-based twins are about to embark on another adventure, but this one's a little different from what they're used to.
After returning from the North Pole in December last year, Tashi and Nungshi toyed with the idea of setting up a foundation to empower and encourage children and women to pursue outdoor sports.
"We as girls are subdued a lot [in India]," Tashi said.
"We can use our passion to make a difference."
The girls have both just completed a Graduate Diploma in Sport and Exercise at the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) and are now looking towards building the TashiNungshi Foundation in India.
"We never thought of having the foundation at first, but we had such positive feedback so we thought maybe we should do it," Tashi said.
"It's just about being a human being and bringing about change in your life and realising your dream," Nungshi said.
Growing up in India, the twins said there was a lot of stereotyping around what girls were and were not physically capable of, especially when it came to climbing and mountaineering.
Nungshi said there was a preconception that being a woman meant you couldn't carry as much weight as men, but the point of the foundation would be to send a message to women that they could do anything they set their minds to.
"We just felt for these kind of girls who [are oppressed and] don't have these opportunities - We felt we need to stand for girls," Tashi said.
"If we see it making a difference, we'd take it international," Nungshi said.
The twins will head back to India in mid December, but hope to return to study at SIT to work towards their Masters, and eventually doctorate, degrees.
"We love Invercargill and we love the people down here," Nungshi said.