Blathnaid reveals heartbreak of her charity trip to Ethiopia

Lorna Nolan

RTE presenter Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh has revealed her heartbreak after returning from a charity trip to Ethiopia recently.

The Meath-born broadcaster explained how she flew home last week from the East African country, where thousands of famine-ravaged refugees have fled from Somalia and Kenya since the food crisis broke out in the Horn of Africa.

Blathnaid (40) told the Herald how she is still struggling to come to terms with the devastation she witnessed while abroad with Plan Ireland this month.

"I'm still pretty shook from the whole experience," Blathnaid explained. "I was there for a week and to be honest it was pretty gruesome, I was taken aback, I won't lie.

"I know we have our problems here but it's not on the same scale at all, it's a completely different disaster. There it's literally just a case of will I eat today? Will my child die?

"I was there just for an observation piece so I can't discuss it here really. I didn't have the cameras with me. People are asked to be involved in campaigns all the time and I would urge them to think twice.

"I could read all the stuff but if you're not out there, you can't speak from the heart," she said.

Blathnaid will spend this week at the ICA's base of An Grianain in Termonfeckin, Co Louth, where she is set to host the live finale episodes of RTE's Charity ICA Bootcamp.

Contestants including former Mr World Kamal Ibrahim, Peter Clohessy, Jessica Kuerten and Dave Young are set to go head to head in the hopes of winning €20,000 for their chosen charity.

Blathnaid admits that the finalists will have their work cut out for them.

"I do know what the tasks are set up in studio. It's cruel. It's all about how they deal with the studio challenges," she explained.

Tonight's episode of Charity ICA Bootcamp will air on RTE One at 9.30pm.