First of all I have to say a massive thank-you to Joseph and Xavier for giving me this incredible opportunity and being extremely easy and fun to work alongside. You guys are awesome and I can’t wait to see the directions both the program and the hotel go with your hard work. For those that …
For those that aren’t aware, I was planning to stay in Ethiopia with the Yaya Girls Running Program for another three months but after a nightmare day at the immigration service (which also led to 48 hours of ohmygodicannotmove flu) I could only get a 10 day visa extension and I had to make a quick change of plans and return to England.
It was initially disappointing to realise that I wouldn’t be physically present for the improvements in the program that will happen now that the pilot phase is over and to only have a week or so to say goodbyes. I will however continue as much of my role as possible from England and it is good to know that the on the ground operations are in incredibly capable hands!
Alongside maintaining my Yaya responsibilities I’ve been catching up with friends and family, trying to keep warm and starting to run (5 months of injury in Ethiopia, healthy in England. Don’t bring it up).
By far the best thing about my time in Ethiopia was the people I met and the friends I made (awww). There were some sad goodbyes with Yaya staff members, particularly the Yaya Girls House Mom (Mum, surely?) Banchi, Guide Runner Amente and the Gym Manager Berhanu, who was a huge help in organising the recent trial race. They say they will go into Addis to use an internet café and keep in touch, and I hope they do!
I swear they weren’t that solemn throughout lunch.
Perhaps one of the luckiest breaks I got was the visit of Becky ‘rice and vegetables’ Wade. Becky was a huge help with all of the Yaya Girls work (time sensitive and otherwise) and gave me someone to travel with both into Addis and to the Simien Mountains and Lalibella, which was an incredible trip and real highlight of my time in Ethiopia. We could probably write a dissertation’s worth of in-jokes, hilarious misunderstandings and would you rathers!
Another person who became a good friend is Julia Bleasdale (http://juliableasdale.com/). Julia stayed for a couple of months at the end of last year and has now returned to Yaya Village to prepare for the summer track season. I don’t know if I’ve met a more generous, creative and focused individual. It’s going to be great to follow her progress over the next few seasons and I’ve no doubt she will be very successful.
Thanks and warmest regards also go out to Richard and Celia, Kevin, Morten, Morten and Susanne, Eliza, Alex, Ryan, Rejean and everyone else that I had the good fortune to meet and hang out with. I hope we see each other again soon!
By the way, if you’re ever stuck deciding what to wear when meeting an Olympic champion, go for the traditional Ethiopian dress. You won’t regret it.