ATI Holidays is an inbound operator, so you would easily make the assumption that I would run for a wildlife related charity, but no.
I am currently preparing to run my first full marathon on the 6th October this year, in aid of the Catherine Bullen Foundation.
Today is the 16th anniversary of Catherine’s very untimely passing, and the reason why ATI Holidays (and I) have decided to support this amazing little charity is that we (as individuals and a company) believe that if you can educate properly and improve standards of health, then conservation will come more naturally – only people with full bellies, a long-term view and an increased understanding of the world around them will be bothered about looking after their environment. So conservation in Namibia will always be a losing battle for as long as the basic needs of the population aren’t being met.
I never met Catherine, but over the inordinately long period of time that I have worked at ATI Holidays, I have gotten to know her parents very well and I have seen the tireless work that they do in some of the poorest and most marginalised communities in Namibia.
In 2002 Catherine was a 22 year old medical student who came out to Namibia on holiday, during her trip to Namibia she developed severe gastro-enteritis. Her travel companions rushed her to the Oshivelo medical clinic, but it was too late and sadly Catherine passed away.
Her parents, Linda and Roger, decided that something positive needs to come from their tragedy and set up the Fund in Catherine’s memory and in July 2005 the Fund was registered as a charity; its aims are:
“The relief of poverty, sickness and distress and the preservation of health in rural Namibia, particularly but not exclusively for the benefit of the Omhaturua Primary School and the inhabitants of the village of Otjimanangombe in Eastern Namibia, by the funding of community based projects including the provision of fresh water supplies, medical and educational facilities and such other facilities as the trustees shall deem necessary with the object of improving the conditions of life of those persons who may have need of such facilities.”
Over the years the Catherine Bullen Foundation have funded a number of crucial projects in the Omaheke region, this is a remote region in the East of Namibia and the benefits to these local communities are immeasurable; ranging from building primary health care clinics to providing bore holes for fresh drinking water.
The impact that Roger and Linda have made in Namibia has been of such a nature that in 2014, the Namibian Government opened a new clinic at Oshivelo to replace the one in which Catherine died. In recognition of the Foundation’s work it was named ‘The Catherine Bullen Primary Healthcare Clinic’.
Currently the Foundation is constructing flush toilets and they are also in the process of converting a storeroom into another dormitory at the Omuhaturua Primary School Hostel in the Omaheke province.
I am Namibian and can see the direct benefits our marginalised communities gain from the Foundation and the work that they do; this is why I have chosen to run a half marathon in Namibia; for the benefit of some of the poorest people in our country.
What always strikes me about Roger and Linda is that they are not distant, benevolent benefactors they actually travel to Namibia at least once a year and work with and for the communities that they support and raise funds for. Roger is pretty handy with a paint brush and bricks and Linda is a registered nurse, so the people who need it most benefit DIRECTLY from them.
You can donate by visiting my UK Virgin Money Just Giving page: