I can’t believe that our Ethiopian adventure will be drawing to a close in a few hours’ time. Tutu, Caroline and I are all aboard our Ethiopian Airlines flight home to Heathrow with a suitcase full of memories. We have had an action-packed week with an eclectic range of experiences and are returning to the UK sleep-deprived but energised and happy.
We have been very blessed during this trip because our Ethiopian friends Tutu and Mulugeta have showed us around and given us a unique insight into what it means to be Ethiopian in 2010 (Ethiopia follows a different calendar and is 7 years behind us!). This was my third visit to Ethiopia, and with every visit I learn a little more about the culture here and grow more fond of this beautiful country and its proud people.
My overriding memory of this trip will be of the wonderful, dignified people I have met. Whatever their socio-economic group, ethnicity or religion, everyone has opened up their homes for us and shown us true Ethiopian hospitality.
One man who exemplifies this hospitality and oozes charisma is athlete and businessman Haile Gebrselassie, who has been a fantastic Ambassador for the Great Ethiopian Run. Yesterday all the international competitors and journalists were invited to his resort YaYa Village in the hills surrounding Addis. We were hugely impressed by the warmth of his welcome and Haile’s genuine ease chatting to people from all walks of life – taking time to dance with each of the tables.
In a few hours’ time, life will return to normal. I will be doing the school run in Cookham again. I can’t wait to see my gorgeous three boys and our Cocker Spaniel Daisy. But wherever I go, the children at the Breakfast Club in Gende Tesfa will not be too far from my thoughts and I will continue trying to play my small part in helping to improve lives there.
Friends often ask me how I became an Ambassador for PFC Ethiopia and why I feel compelled to keep supporting Gende Tesfa, which translates from Amharic into English as “Village of Hope”. I am not sure I can articulate this in words or my put my finger on it. But when I visited the Breakfast Club and met the children and parents, I was deeply moved. Connecting two very different villages – one in leafy Berkshire and the other in dusty Dire Dawa – has been a joy and a gift but I could not do it without the support of my family, friends and colleagues. Special thanks also to my husband Damian and my children Joshua and Jack.
One final thank you to Tutu and Nancy for adding their special magic to our trip. Also a a gigantic thank you to my friend – photographer Caroline Field– who has captured so many beautiful moments in a way i could never do. I couldn’t think of nicer “partners in crime” or travel buddies.
Just a reminder that if you would like to make donation to Gende Tesfa, however small, here is the link: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/displayCharityCampaignPage.action?charityCampaignUrl=tutusforchange
Please do share our blog with friends who might find it interesting. Thanks again. Until next time…