Tim Hurley, Camara’s Fundraising Manager, left behind the lush plains of the Curragh and departed for Addis on Saturday. He will spend some time in Ethiopia before moving on to Kenya as part of a fact-finding trip, his first ever to Africa. The ever-adaptable Waterford native was only too happy to oblige when the Camara media team asked him if he would send back regular updates about his trip. Here’s Tim’s story so far…
Day 1 – A child-like sense of adventure.
Joining the Camara Education team last year was a real privilege – indeed it fulfilled a personal ambition – and today, making my first trip to Africa to see Camara’s work with disadvantaged children first hand, I must admit there’s an almost child-like sense of adventure stirring plenty of butterflies of excitement and trepidation inside.
On my last Skype ‘trip-preview’ call yesterday to Philip McAllister, Camara’s legendary Ops Manager in Africa, he wished me ‘Safari Njema.’ This was my first real lesson in all things African. As Philip explained, ‘safari’ is one of the few African words to make it into the English language – it means ‘journey’, and ‘njema’ means ‘good’. After months of planning, it felt like the starter’s pistol had finally been fired, and my ‘good journey’ to Africa was finally about to begin.
Driving from home to Dublin Airport this morning through the lush green plains of The Curragh, the crisp cold foggy still air revealed wonderful leisurely scenes of powerful racehorses on their usual morning canter, with their almost scarily obsessed jockeys on board, dogs of all shapes and sizes being walked briskly in all directions – heads up and heads down – and dozens of sheep, scattered all around like cotton wool balls. I couldn’t help but wonder what a vastly different way of life from ours I will soon witness.
Tomorrow morning, Ethiopian Airways will deliver me safely to Addis Ababa. Their Boeing ‘Triple 7’ that I’ll soon be boarding is a gleaming testament to the economic progress being made throughout many proud African nations. Much praise has been lavished upon Ethiopian as a world class airline. I have an overnight seven-hour flight ahead and I can’t wait to get on board and let my two-week ‘Safari’ begin.
Day 2 – Striking contrasts.
Ethiopian Airways’ reputation as a world-class airline is certainly well-deserved. The flight from London was smooth and the service was great. Having flown through the night it was amazing to touch down in Africa for the first time – just as the sun was literally about to dawn on a new day.
Driving from Addis Airport to the hotel towards the city, the contrasts are striking: really old beaten up blue-and-white taxis – repainted many times over – mixed with some shiny new cars on an impressive, modern main road to the city. Lining the route, many old shack-type establishments sit among some fine looking buildings. Look in any direction and ten-story office blocks, or maybe hotels, are under construction almost every half mile.
There’s a huge amount of investment and building going on. The contrasts are confusing and striking, and certainly reveal a city that’s working hard to drive itself beyond development and in to the modern world. I’m now looking forward to getting stuck into my work. There will undoubtedly be much to learn here.
Check back here later in the week for more on Tim’s trip…