Roscommon players Roisin Wynne, Ultan Harney and Neil Collins joined fifty leading GAA stars to compete in the first ever ‘Plant the Planet Games’ in Nairobi, Kenya, on a visit that also saw them plant the first thousand 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 twenty-three 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 medalist and world record holding runner, David Rudisha.
In a social media post, Ultan Harney said: “The bond and connection that was formed between the fifty-plus Warriors for Humanity crew and the people of Kenya is impossible to define. The welcome we received in schools, farms, hospitals, communities and tribes will forever impact me. Together, through singing, playing sport and laughing, my eyes are open to the fact that it is the simple things in life that makes us happy”.
Martha Hourican (Business Development Director at Self Help Africa) 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.
“This trip responds to that crisis in a practical way, while also highlighting for people back home here in Ireland very real effects of climate change being felt by poor and vulnerable communities in Africa,” she said.
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.
To find out more about Self Help Africa’s efforts to plant millions of trees in Africa visit selfhelpafrica.org.