After completing the walk the second objective for the amithefirst project is to raise money for charity. So which charity?
I get lots of different things from walking. One of the particular pleasures, especially on the big iconic walks like the Haute Route, or Everest Base Camp, is the sense of international solidarity you get from sharing something with people from different countries. So it was a special Christmas Eve spent drinking with a group of Mexicans, Spanish, Indians and Nepalese in a freezing tea house at Poon Hill on the Annapurna Circuit. The memory of the tiny Nepalese porters giggling uncontrollably as the much larger, in your face, female trekkers from Spain sang louder and louder as they drank more and more Indian whisky is both really nice and in a way inspirational.
The E network of trails is, in itself, a sort of international solidarity manifestation. The European Ramblers Association, which looks after the network, exists to promote trans border access for walkers and to support "activities which serve to strengthen greater understanding between the peoples and nations of Europe".
So a charity which promotes international solidarity seems to make sense.
It would also be nice to support something that was real and generated a tangible result.
In both Nepal and Ethiopia we were lucky to get invited into local schools. In Ethiopia we were invited into schools in Lalibela (famous for its churches carved out of rock) and later on the trail itself in the village of Chiro Leba (the day before climbing Ras Dashen). Both schools were joyous places with children seeing education as way to a future. In Lalibela we were struck by the organisation. A large school, children started at different ages and were taught by a combination of teachers and other children who had learnt more. To add to the organisational complexity the school ran a two shift system with a 1,000 or so children attending in the morning and another 1,000 going there in the afternoon (different children - same teachers). In Chiro Leba the school was much smaller, uneven earthern floors, with walls incapable of keeping livestock out when the children weren't not there (the evidence was on the floor). Throughout our time in Ethopia children came up to you not for money but for pens. The empty biro refills (the bit in the middle not the pen) on the floor of the school in Chiro Leba showed us why.
So a charity which supported international solidarity and which did something tangible, which made a difference to say a school in Ethopia, would be nice.
What I'm looking for now are some ideas.
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