In 1992 I took part in Operation Raleigh (Raleigh International) a twelve-week expedition to Namibia. As a young student it was my first time to Africa, and it was to leave a remarkable impression. The trip had three components: tag fish along the Skeleton Coast, build a trail through Waterberg National Park and canoe along the Kunene River. For many this is how the love affair with Africa begins – doing some voluntary work.
To get there I had to raise a few thousand pounds not a simple task and like many growing up at that time there wasn’t much money going around. I was very thankful to supermarkets who let me sit outside of their exits rattling tins, town councils who had spare cash in those days, the local community including the village church.
The conditions weren’t great, but it was a time for adventure and for life in all its fullness. To see the Namib Desert in all its splendour and the wildlife which quite simply born free to roam. To meet the people who were so hospitable and to enjoy the blazing sun and bright blue skies. Africa was gorgeous and it certainly was better than grey and grim surroundings of 90s England. Of course, the love affair and impression were to last and a yearning to be connected to that vast great wilderness had begun.