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a blog by Chris Barrow

We are more alike than different

After yesterday’s demanding Portsmouth Marathon (black ice, running on beaches, rain, mud) I decided to spend an extra hour in bed this morning and break with my 05:00 routine – that’s the best bit of being a perfect imperfectionist.

Another bit of self-indulgence was a cab ride from Portsmouth back to Southampton Airport yesterday afternoon (after a glorious steam and sauna at The Holiday Inn) and, inevitably, I started chatting to my driver.

Turns out he originates from Tanzania, so we immediately had plenty to talk about, as I shared my experiences of that wonderful country through our association with Bridge2Aid; tales of Mwanza, Lake Victoria and Kilimanjaro.

His story was of growing up in coastal Tanga and living in Morogoro before he came to the UK 14 years ago with his wife (now separated).

The UK journey began in Milton Keynes but after his marriage ended he moved to Portsmouth because he had Tanzanian friends there.

Since then (and whilst driving his cab) he has studied for a degree and a Masters in the petro-chemical industry and plans to return to his home country and pursue a career in the rapidly expanding gas exploration industry that is bringing new wealth to that region. His Masters was sponsored by one of the larger exploration companies – investing in his future as an asset to their business.

On further investigation, it turns out we have another thing in common – his grandparents grew up in Yemen and Oman and he has been back to both countries to trace his roots. So – another round of conversation, comparing notes on driving South from Salalah to Dhalkut and the Yemeni border and how civil war has closed that region and made travel much more difficult and dangerous.

A fascinating conversation and, yet again, a reminder that:

  1. we are so much more alike than different;

  2. everyone has a back-story;

  3. the spirit of human endeavour is a magnificent thing;

  4. there is good in the world.

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