Ethiopia's landscape is stunning, the country is truly beautiful steeped in history and rich in cultural heritage. We have written to you about the hospitality and the rich coffee tradition. We show you beautiful examples of the children who are blossoming on our program. British photographer Al Deane has captured the essence of Ethiopia in his photo...Read now
When did he know he wanted to be a pilot?
“I was fortunate to experience my first taste of aviation at 6yrs of age. Living in Sydney at the time, I was looking forward to spending a summer holiday at my Auntie’s house, and even more excited about travelling unaccompanied on the DC9 flight to Adelaide. Back in those days, it was common to have visitors on the flight deck, and during the flight the cabin crew asked if I would like to come visit the pilots. As a young kid I eagerly agreed, and was proud that they even let me ‘have a steer’, turning the yoke gently left and right…my dream of becoming a pilot was born right there, but it wasn’t until many years later that I managed to realise it.
What amazing things have you seen on your travels?
Sometimes the journey is as much of a highlight as the destination. For example flying to Japan over the Himalayas and marvelling at how the view from one side of the horizon to the other is a vast expanse of snow capped rugged peaks, and crevasse filled glaciers. Flying the polar route to the United States is also amazing, sitting high above the Arctic ice cap in the middle of the night and gazing at the ghostly green glow of the Northern lights is very special.
How did you become involved with BTO?
I was working for an airline in Adelaide one day and was rostered on a flight with Geoff Hucker, (CEO, BTO). As the topic of conversation moved onto coffee, and then Ethiopia, he told me the story of how BTO helps kids in Addis Ababa. I was impressed with the outcomes being achieved and asked if there was anything I could do to help. Prior to working as a pilot, I had a background in management consulting and project management. I had experience working with Australian children’s charities, so I offered assistance with some planning which was being done at the time.
What’s special about BTO for you?
The kids who, through no fault of their own have found themselves in a daily struggle just to survive, and with little or no hope for the future. The support offered by BTO in all areas of their life, allows a child to overcome their hardship, to dream again and work towards achieving their dream. Seeing them progress and become independent; the same as you would wish for your own kids, is amazing.
You have made some trips to Ethiopia to visit BTO there, what are your memories of your first trip?
I visited with my son during the winter, and we arrived to cool conditions and heavy rain. We’d never been to Ethiopia before and really had no idea what to expect. Certainly there was a bit of culture shock with unfamiliar surroundings, people, food, culture and language – but what struck me was even with the overwhelming poverty, the people were friendly and welcoming.
At the time we were involved setting up a computer lab and networking facilities so the kids could develop some IT skills. The IT facilities have been an ongoing project with capabilities improving with each visit. I have returned since and the kids seem healthier & happier each time I see them, and it’s evident they enjoy the exposure to the online world they have access to through the computer lab. We’re helping them to gain valuable skills that will help them to secure a job or further their studies.
What is your main motivation to work with BTO?
I hope that if my own children were ever in need, that there would be an organisation such as BTO, to act as their safety net. To pick up the pieces and help them back on the path toward health and happiness, and enable them to dream and achieve whatever they set their minds too.
What would you like to tell people who may be thinking of supporting a child at BTO?
BTO provides the opportunity to make a real difference in a child’s life. Having the ability to directly contribute to a child’s development, and seeing the results achieved, is a reward both for you and the children.