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Visiting Ethiopia 25 years after Band Aid

Band Aid and Ethiopia have always been a big part of our lives and talked about in my house. But speaking about it is very different to going there. So when Save the Children offered to take my dad, Midge Ure and I to Ethiopia – 25 years after Band Aid – I jumped at the chance.

Arriving in Addis Ababa

After eight hours on the plane with my Dad, Nick (a Telegraph journalist) and Jude (from Save the Children), we touched down in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. When we eventually stepped outside it wasn’t as hot as I had expected. It was only 10 am in the morning, so that may have been why.

After an hour of being in the hotel we were introduced to our driver and together we walked next door to go and get some Birr, which is the local currency in Ethiopia.

We wanted to see what life was like in the centre of Addis Ababa, so our driver took us to a market. While driving there we spotted lots of construction work, but rather than the scaffolding you see in England, it was just wooden poles holding the building together. We drove past many large, Russian-style towers, because Ethiopia used to be ruled by a socialist government.

The shops were not shops as such, but very small tin stalls, or sometimes tin rooms. You could get anything at the market: fake sunglasses, Ethiopian traditional dresses, dead chickens and even giant rubber tyres. We saw two men on a bike; one driving and the other man carrying four giant truck tyres – one through each arm and one balanced on each knee.

I spotted a little boy, who must have been around six-years-old, walking on his hands because he was crippled. I had never seen anything like this. When I looked closer I noticed that he was wearing flip-flops on his hands.

I also spotted lots of small kids, no older then eight, struggling to push fully grown men in wheelchairs up massive hills on main roads. None of them were complaining though.

There were many people carrying massive boxes on their backs, which looked incredibly heavy. We saw a man carrying about twelve mattresses above his head, and he kept running into cars because he couldn’t see anything in front of him.

Over dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant we met Rae, who works at Save the Children. Rae explained to us what to expect in the highlands the next day.

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