Galway’s ‘Operation Transformation’ contestant Ronan Scully and Galway publican Fergus McGinn along with six other runners from Galway and another 10 from around the country are to take part in the Great Ethiopian Run in Addis Ababa on Sunday November 27 to raise funds for the Irish charity Self Help Africa for their work in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.
Ronan admits that food has always been close to his heart. He is be the first to attest to his love for a bit of grub – and concedes that his fondness for food was a major contributor to the weight gain that saw him rise to over 16 stone, in recent years.
Ronan’s participation in the popular RTE television show has enabled him to change all that however, but the three or more stones that he has lost isn’t the only transformation that have taken place in the life of the affable Galway-man, this year.
A change of employment – to work as a charity fundraiser with the Irish Charity Self Help Africa has been another major transformation for Ronan, who says with some irony that food is probably on the menu for him now more than ever before – although in an entirely different way.
“Since I started working with Self Help Africa the entire focus has been on food – and particularly how it can be grown in difficult conditions and tough climates in the developing world”.
“I may have had my own struggles with food in the past – but the weight loss challenges that I faced on ‘Operation Transformation’ are absolutely nothing to the ordeal that millions of Africans face in putting enough food on the table and providing for their families, simply to survive”.
Ronan says that he understands now more than ever how critical farming and food production is to poor communities around the globe.
“These issues have come into sharp focus with the famine and drought in East Africa at present, but at Self Help Africa we are continuing to say that while we must respond to the emergency, we can only help to bring an end to these terrible stories if we provide people with the wherewithal to live a life free from hunger and poverty’.
“At Self Help Africa we are doing that by providing farming communities with good quality seed, by supporting the development of irrigation, and by a whole host of other measures that can give people some protection from the kinds of problems they are facing in parts of East Africa today”.
For Ronan the plight of the people of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia is particularly troubling. An adoptive father of two little girls from Ethiopia, he says that it has been particularly tough to watch the pictures of the famine on the news bulletins, or explain to four year old Mia what is happening in the country that she came from.
“It’s hard to explain to a four year old that there are people dying of hunger in the world, and particularly so when we know that this is not a disease they are suffering, but a situation that can be cured very easily’.
“Self Help Africa, which is the chosen charity of the Irish Farmers Association believe that they have a solution to hunger and poverty in Africa. They call it farming”, says Ronan.
The charity has been working in Ethiopia for more than 25 years, and has supported more than one million people in that country to increase the amount of food that they produce, and increase the amount that they earn from farming in that time.
Ronan Scully says that the reason for Self Help Africa to focus on farming is simple too – pointing to the fact that 80% of people in sub-Saharan Africa live on small farms, and to studies that show that the vast majority of these farms have the potential for greater productivity.
“As the name suggests, Self Help believes that the solution to one of the biggest challenges faced by Africa is in the hands of the people themselves.
“Provide African farmers with better access to seeds, with training and with the knowledge that will make them better farmers and you will solve a problem that we have been wrestling with for the best part of half a century”, says Ronan.
For his own part the Offaly-born fundraiser is planning on putting his best foot forward on Sunday the 27th of November 27, when he leads a charity run for Self Help Africa to Ethiopia’s capital, to take part in The Great Ethiopian run.
Ronan has already signed up 16 runners to join him on the annual Great Ethiopian Run, walking and running challenge through the heart of Addis Ababa. Seven of the runners are Galway-based and one of the runners going along with him from Galway is publican Fergus McGinn of Monroes Tavern. If you would like to sponsor Fergus on his run to help the people of Ethiopia drop into Monroes and drop a few coins in the many donation buckets placed around Monroes Tavern and Monroes Live.
To find out more or to donate to Self Help Africa contact Ronan on: 1850 757678, or visit: www.selfhelpafrica.org to make a donation