Mairead 's dream

Mairead Balloon photo 4

Name: Mairead

Age: 22

Date dream fulfilled: 03/09/2018

Summary: An African Safari for Mairead

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Mairead was 20 and in her second year of studying  veterinary medicine at University when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a blood cancer.  Looking back now, Mairead told us that it was a  "very scary and difficult time - and I am thankfully now back to full health and only need to attend the hospital for a check-up every few months”. 

Her diagnosis affected her life a lot: She had to drop out of uni for a year, couldn’t go out with her friends to clubs etc due to infection risk, and spent one day every  two weeks hooked up to an IV pump for about five hours, followed by 5 rough days in bed with very little energy. 

As someone fascinated by animals, there was no question that her dream would be animal-related. She’d missed out on the travelling she’d planned over the summer and wanted to share her dream with her boyfriend  Africa would be the perfect place to relax, recharge her batteries and appreciate being healthy again after her treatment ended!

Throughout this time, I had the most amazing family, friends and boyfriend who supported me every step of the way so I was delighted when I found out that I was to realise my dream of going on safari and that I was able to take my boyfriend on the trip too as a thanks for being there for me through it all.

We arranged for Mairead to go on safari to Kenya with the kind offer of a discount from Somak Holidays.

“It was brilliant to have something amazing to look forward to after a tough time and, after months of excitement in anticipation of the safari, September finally arrived and it was time for Africa!”


As soon as Mairead and Andrew arrived, they already felt like VIPs: “The hotel was gorgeous and a great introduction to the amazing service and hospitality of the Kenyan people”.  

They set off early the next morning for a four-night safari, staying at several lodges and visiting Aberdares, Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha and the Masai Mara.

They managed to see every animal they had hoped to see, exceeding their expectations of the trip. They were even privileged to be present at a very rare sighting of a black rhino! Another unforgettable moment of the trip was when they discovered a pride of lions who had just hunted down a giraffe. “

“We were within metres of the lions and it was amazing, although slightly gory, to watch them tuck into their dinner. One of the younger lions crossed the path right in front of our van and I remember being both exhilarated and terrified at the same time.”


They also took a boat trip across Lake Naivasha where they saw many hippos in their natural habitat and had the opportunity to visit a Masai village. This was a fun and eye-opening experience! Mairead and Andrew loved joining in the traditional dances and songs while learning about the Masai Culture.

“It is a totally different way of life and so far from anything I had previously encountered in the way of accommodation, day to day activities, food and culture. It was lovely to see how happy the people were with their simple way of life.”


On the second to last day of the safari, just before a champagne breakfast, they took an early morning hot air balloon flight over the Masai Mara which Mairead says was “insane”. It was incredible to get an alternative view of the animals below and to see the different herds of zebra, buffalo and wildebeest making their way across the land. Their pilot provided lots of interesting facts and the smoothest flight they’d ever experienced Mairead said “it felt as if we were just gliding through the air!”

The second half of Mairead’s trip was spent relaxing by the sea in Mombasa. Their hotel was right on the beach and they enjoyed playing water polo and trying out various water sports on the beach. Mairead said that they spent their “nights eating various African specialities and drinking cocktails at the beach bar, the perfect way to recover from the action-packed nature of the safari”.


If you would like to help more children and young people like Mairead fulfil their dreams, please follow this link to donate. Thank you

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