Saturday, 4 December 2010

Back from Africa

February 2011 update: I took about 3 months to finish this draft, a few more things have happened since.

I had an absolutely fantastic trip to Tanzania with The Great Football Giveaway in November 2010, you can follow the events during the trip here. By now I can safely say it has been a life changing experience for me. I gave up on the draft in December partly out of simply being lazy, partly busy at work, partly because it was such a rich experience I didn't know what to write about it exactly. Altogether the photo above illustrates pretty well how overwhelming it was - in a good way.

We were nine people on Neil's team (who has done an awesome job with kick-starting the whole project and leading the team) joined by our three amazing drivers: Sebastian, David and Josef. We got along like a house on fire for the ten days of the Football Giveaway: as much banter and piss-taking as well as more serious conversations and sharing personal stories. They are all people I now hold dear in my heart, with whom I shared this unique experience. You can find everyone's names on our JustGiving page, and you can also still make donations for more balls to be given to children on future trips.

I was lucky enough to have more holiday time, so while the others flew back home I spent two more weeks in Tanzania; a few days on a safari in the Selous and a week on the beach in Zanzibar.

A lot comes to mind in wanting to describe the whole experience, about Africa and Tanzania, the children, infrastructures in the country or lack thereof, charity vs. gifts, education, play, the development of tourism and who benefits from it, large charity organisations / NGOs, animal conservation and hunting, the amazing people I met there, smiles on so many children's faces, and probably a lot more I forget right now.

I can talk about any of these points at length but the best way I can sum it up for now, even though these simple words don't do justice to the experience, is that life is too short not to do things I really enjoy doing. I don't mean that I particularly deprived myself of that before, on the contrary if you now me you know I'm rather bon vivant. It's just that this is what's present when thinking of the trip.  I'm extremely privileged to have a lot of choice in the way I lead my life and I want to make sure I take advantage of that, both for myself and to make a difference for others.

More specifically about my trip, you can check out some photos on my Flickr and we are in the process of editing all the videos we have from the Football Giveaway. If you ever fancy a safari in Tanzania, I highly recommend going to Selous and staying at the Selous River Camp. Owned and managed by Kenny and Kate, I loved their blog and was right to go there; they made me feel very welcome and I had an awesome time at their camp discovering the Selous and generally relaxing relaxing by the river.

To finish off, you can get that a lot was bubbling away in my head in December, I'll write about that in my next post.