Saturday, February 04, 2023

Andy Howard bound for Australia….the long way around


By Brian Byrne

A PLUCKY local man has set his sights on travelling all the way to Australia without any money and depending solely on the kindness of others.

Andy Howard from Dunlavin is raising awareness and funds for suicide charities with his ‘Kindness of Humans’ adventure, which will see him make his way from London to Australia

on what he calls his Great Life Project. He hopes to raise €100,000, which will be divided among suicide-related charities in Ireland, the UK and Australia.

Living in London for the past while with a good job and lifestyle to match, Andy had almost decided to settle down. But there was a nagging sense that he wanted to do something different and special first.

The idea of a trek to Australia came up in conversation with some friends and then just grew.

“I decided I wanted to travel a bit more before I settled down, and then the talk went on to feeling it would be great if I could help others while I challenged myself,” he said.

“Suicide awareness has always been a massive thing for me, because I lost a friend to suicide, and suicide affects everybody.”

His concept is that he will depend on the kindness of strangers to give him lifts as he flashes his ‘goodwill’ card on the side of the roads. For food and places to sleep, he is prepared to work for or help those he meets in any way that seems useful. When it comes to crossing oceans, there are options.

“There are ships that cross the seas I need to get over, and I’m hoping to get jobs on board in return for passage. If I come to a community where I see that I can benefit it by staying there for a while, I’ll do that and give a dig-out in return for shelter and food. I think also that if you stay with a family or community for a period, you have a better chance of getting a recommendation for further along the way.”

Andy reckons the journey will take about a year-and-a-half, and one of the biggest problems was to find a safe route through which he could walk, thumb lifts and work his way across many different countries and cultures. His chosen route will bring him through Kazakhstan, India, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, among others.

Crossing through so many countries will require multiple travel permissions and visas, but because he doesn’t have a definite timeline itinerary, he will have to wait until he reaches individual borders to apply to cross, especially for one to enter India.

There’s also the matter of different languages throughout his trip. Andy has learned ten different phrases in as many of those languages as he can, and he also has a laminated sheet that introduces himself in several languages and says what he’s doing.

“When I can’t make myself understood, and Google Translate doesn’t work, I can show people that. Between these and vibing their body language, I hope I can build some kind of rapport,” he says.

Throughout his epic journey, Andy will be documenting and streaming his adventures on his YouTube and Instagram accounts. He has set up a GoFundMe page for donations for his charity fundraising – Seeking Human Kind – all the proceeds of which will go to the organisations he wants to help.

His travels can be followed on his YouTube space, The Great Life Project.

Friends and family have been supportive and have provided him with some basic essentials for his journey and his project, including camera equipment and a tent.

On the face of it, it’s a mad, mad idea. But underpinning the whole project is Andy’s faith in human nature and kindness.

Andy’s mother Deirdre was in An Gairdín Beo, Carlow last week to lead the drumming workshop as part of the community garden’s St Brigid’s Day celebrations. As part of the event, a raffle was held, with all proceeds going to the Andy’s fundraising efforts.

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