THREE well-known Limerick GAA players have returned from a historic trip to Africa, where they launched an initiative to plant more than a million trees to combat climate change.
Tom Morrissey, Sean Finn, and Cathy Mee joined 50 leading GAA stars to compete in the first ever ‘Plant the Planet Games’ in Nairobi, Kenya.
They also planted the first thousand trees in a GPA-backed tree planting effort to tackle climate change in Africa.
The players, who included inter-county hurlers, footballers and camogie players from 23 different counties, were tasked with raising €10,000 in sponsorship to support the effort.
Their collective total has already topped €500,000, with funds still coming in.
The initiative was organised by Galway dual player Alan Kerins’ ‘Warriors for Humanity’ group in conjunction with development charity Self Help Africa.
The campaign is also being supported by Kenyan Olympic medalist and world record holding runner, David Rudisha.
In a social media post, Cathy Mee said: “Visiting Self Help Africa projects… we planted trees and learned about the devastating effects of climate change on a country that contributes very little to the issue. The aim of the trip was to plant a million trees which will benefit hundreds of thousands of families in the years to come”.
Self Help Africa Business Development Director Martha Hourican, said the trip had exceeded all expectations, and that the support provided by the Gaelic players would have a transformative effect for communities in Kenya hard hit by the effects of climate change.
“Regions of Kenya have endured four successive years of drought, upwards of two million livestock have been lost this year alone, and crops have failed.
“This trip responds to that crisis in a practical way, while also highlighting for people back home here in Ireland very real effects of climate change being felt by poor and vulnerable communities in Africa,” she said.
Amongst the participants in the inaugural ‘Plant the Planet Games’ were Limerick Hurler Sean Finn, Wexford’s Matthew O’Hanlon, Kerry’s Stefan Okunbor, Clare’s Podge Collins, Kilkenny’s Grace Walsh, and Niamh O’Sullivan from Meath.
The players took to the field for a series of exhibition games at Nairobi Rugby Club, before visiting projects being undertaken by Self Help Africa in Kenya, and planting trees at Baringo in the country’s drought affected Rift Valley.
To find out more about Self Help Africa’s efforts to plant millions of trees visit: www.selfhelpafrica.org