Big thank you from

Teacher returns to help build homes in Ethiopia

Parents and staff from Ballycarrickmaddy Primary School helped Olivia with her fund raising by taking part in an "Ironathon" ironing for one afternoon. US1809-113A0 Picture By; Aidan O'ReillyLOCAL teacher Olivia McKnight will be making a return trip to Ethiopia this summer to again help build houses with Habitat for Humanity.

Olivia, a teacher at Ballycarrickmaddy Primary School, went out last summer and spent two weeks building homes in Kombolsha.

Having found her journey a "rewarding experience", she will once again spend two weeks in July, this time working in the city of Debre Markos with a team of 14.

Having raised £1,600 for the trip, Olivia is looking forward to working in the African nation and is hoping to learn more about the culture and language whilst she is there.

Staff, pupils and parents at Ballycarrickmaddy have helped to raise the necessary funds by holding an ironathon in the school, whilst the also completed the Belfast Marathon sponsored walk on May Day. "I have all summer off and I was thinking 'what would I like to do?"' Olivia said. "I always wanted to go to Africa so when I went to an information evening on Habitat for Humanity I decided to go to Ethiopia."

Last summer the team of 12, with two team leaders, worked on 24 houses and built two new homes during their visit.

Olivia added: "The houses are made out of mud and straw with a tin roof on top. They are like our cattle sheds.

"The team is a mixed group with lots of people from all over Northern Ireland; it is a great learning experience."

Speaking about this year's visit Olivia said: "Debre Markos is very high up so our bodies will have to get used to the altitude and the heat but it will be a very rewarding experience.

"The people are very appreciative, when they saw we were working they began to work with us and we encouraged them."

Olivia's pupils have also shown an interest in her work in Ethiopia, learning about the country in class.

Olivia continued: "I really enjoyed the people there. I would like to learn more of the language; that's why I chose to go back.

"It was a life changing and humbling experience. It made me appreciate what I've got here more,' she added.

"I'd like to thank my family, Ballycarrickmaddy Primary parents and staff and my Church, Banbridge Road Presbyterian, Dromore for their continued support."

Ulster Star