Four of Antrim’s best known gaelic players have recently returned from a trip to Africa where they kick started a bid to plant more than a million trees to combat climate change.
Antrim players Chris Kerr, Jane Adams, Paddy Burke and Neil McManus joined 50 leading GAA stars to compete in the first ever ‘Plant the Planet Games’ in Nairobi, Kenya, on a visit where they also planted the first 1,000 trees in a GPA-backed tree planting effort to tackle climate change in Africa.
Each of the participating players, who included inter-county hurlers, footballers and camogie players from 23 different counties, were tasked with raising €10,000 in sponsorship to support the effort.
The group’s collective total has already topped half a million euro, with funds still coming in.
The initiative was organised by Galway dual player Alan Kerins, Warriors for Humanity, in conjunction with development charity Self Help Africa, and is also being supported by Kenyan Olympic medallist and world record holding runner David Rudisha.
In a social media post, Neil McManus said: “This past week was one of so much learning and emotion …
“The Kenyan people are struggling daily against drought, hunger and the need for clean drinking water, yet they met us with smiles, laughter, and dances at every turn.”
Business Development Director at Self Help Africa, Martha Hourican, said that the trip had exceeded all expectations, and that the support provided by the gaelic players would have a transformational effect for communities in Kenya hard hit by the effects of climate change.
“Regions of Kenya have endured four successive years of drought, upwards of two million livestock have been lost this year alone, and crops have failed,” she said.
“This trip responds to that crisis in a practical way, while also highlighting for people back home here across Ireland very real effects of climate change being felt by poor and vulnerable communities in Africa.”
Amongst the participants in the inaugural ‘Plant the Planet Games’ with the Antrim players were Limerick hurler Sean Finn, Wexford’s Matthew O’Hanlon, Kerry’s Stefan Okunbor, Clare’s Podge Collins, Kilkenny’s Grace Walsh, and Niamh O’Sullivan from Meath.
The players took to the field for a series of exhibition games at Nairobi Rugby Club before visiting projects being implemented by Self Help Africa in Kenya, and planting trees at Baringo in the country’s drought affected Rift Valley.
n To find out more about Self Help Africa’s efforts to plant millions of trees in Africa visit www.selfhelpafrica.org
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