Never let it be said that Eynsham is parochial in outlook! Here is an account of a trek in Ethiopia - undertaken in November 2007 - to raise funds for RETRAK, a small, hands-on charity which started in Uganda.
Closer to home, there are several charitable organisations based in Eynsham: view details >>
RETRAK is a small, hands-on charity which started in Kampala, Uganda (where we lived for 6 years) initially as a football club for street kids but, over a period of time, they built a clubhouse where the kids could get food and medical attention. Now the main aim of RETRAK is to get the children back with their families, if not parents. Or at least to get them back to school. They have recently expanded their work to Nairobi and Addis Ababa.
Examining the day's filth.
Promotion / fund-raising.
Street children sleeping in Addis Ababa. Oliver Twist would be what we now call a “street kid”. Watching on TV, from the comfort of our centrally heated lounge, it is difficult to imagine just what it must have been like at that time for Oliver and other orphans. Hungry, no home, despised, persecuted. Yet that is what it is still like for the street children in Addis Ababa and in many other cities around the world. So, to help where I could ....
I set out, with 16 others, to climb Ras Dashen in the Simien Mountains. It took 6 days, walking across undulating terrain and climbing steep, rocky paths as we acclimatized to the altitude. It was a real “challenge”. Very difficult and not something I would do for fun. Awful pit-latrines. Sub-zero temperatures at night. But, standing at the edge of 1000 metre high cliffs, we were rewarded with spectacular views.
And I did it!! Here I am at the summit with 3 young shepherds in the background. They live in caves in the mountain - the one on the left is carrying a lamb.
I did this to raise funds to enable RETRAK to continue the work they have started with street children in East Africa.
On our return to Addis we visited RETRAK where we met the amazingly dedicated staff. Maggi, who runs the centre, is an Australian. She has given up the type of life that most of us enjoy to live and work among the disadvantaged. She is assisted by a team of Ethiopians who have a concern for the disadvantaged in their country. They work in conditions and in an area of the city that most of us would avoid at all costs. But they are doing vital and compassionate work. This is one of the young boys I met at the RETRAK “club”.
On behalf of RETRAK I would like to thank everyone who so generously contributed to my fund raising. I exceeded the £3000 target and everything I raised went to RETRAK.
P.S. if you want a different experience, visit Ethiopia. Lalibela, Axum and Gonder are cities steeped in history - stelae, rock-hewn churches. Maybe even the Ark of the Covenant.