A hitchhiking adventure in aid of charity

Charity work: Ben Warrilow
Charity work: Ben Warrilow
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Pals get together to pursue travel challenge to help raise funds for charity in Africa

Two old school pals have hitchhiked all the way to Morocco – raising money for a Kenyan orphanage at the same time.

Nas Athimoolam and old Stonyhurst College friend Ben Warrilow, both 24, decided to do the trip as an adventure.

Ben, from Longridge, said: “Nas came to me with the idea of hitchhiking as he has previously travelled to Morocco using this method.

“I thought it would be a great idea to raise money for charity in the process, and the first thought that came to my mind was the Kenyan Mission that I stayed in during the summer. I spent a couple of months there helping out in what is a Catholic mission which lies on the border between Kenya and Ethiopia.”

Called Our Lady Queen of Peace in the settlement of Todonyang, the mission is in the middle of the desert, 200km from the nearest town.

It also lies in the middle of two warring tribes, the Dassanech on the Ethiopian side and the Turkana in Kenya and during his time there Ben helped out with the construction of a new dormitory for the mission’s school, which allowed the children to sleep there in safety.

“Most of the children at the mission are orphans,” he explained. “I also taught the children in the school....and also arranged peace meetings between the two warring tribes!”

The constant struggle with poverty and tribal violence was a shocking and haunting memory that Ben says will stay with him for ever.

And it was that memory which triggered the idea for him and Nas to take up Nas’s idea and hitchike – and raise funds for the mission with a target of £800.

In an intriguing account, Ben recalls: “We left Sainsbury’s in Longridge on Monday September 8 and arrived in Budapest the following Monday 15.

“In those eight days we travelled 1,500 miles and through eight countries.... England, France, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary!”

Luckily for the duo, they got a surprise lift for, on that first Monday, Ben’s former primary school, St Wilfrid’s, was travelling down from Longridge to Ypres in Belgium, on a battlefield tour.

The main aim of the journey and the fundraising was to get together enough money for the Mission to build a fishing boat to allow the local people to fish on Lake Turkana.

“We are over halfway to our target with nearly £680 raised so far but are still accepting donations in an effort to raise the £800 we need,” said Ben.