Newry.ie

Beautifully crafted ornaments of some of Africa's most wonderful animals line the window of David Olara’s living room.

It's his way of ensuring a little bit of his east African roots form part of his new home in Warrenpoint.

David moved to Ireland last year with his Kilkeel-born wife and young son.

It was a huge decision.

"It really was a bold decision to make because I had to leave family members," says David

"Back home I was running a business and also working with the Uganda Rugby Union. So having to leave friends behind, having to leave family behind, really was a bold decision, but, at the end of the day, I had to move."

David Olara. Photographs: NewRayPics.com
David Olara. Photographs: NewRayPics.com

David was born and raised in Gulu in northern Uganda.

He was a child when civil war waged between the Ugandan army and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

Two of the casualties of the war included David's parents who were killed when he was just six.

"I was born in a family of four," said David.

"Unfortunately my parents were both killed when I was six-years-old. They were killed in an ambush.

"So I grew up with my granddad, grandma and my aunt. Growing up was really hard for me because northern Uganda had been in the forefront of the 25-year war between the LRA and Ugandan government.

"So as a child growing up in a a war-zone without your parents was really hard for me."

David ran a successful barber and boutique business in Gulu.

He also worked as a coach for the Uganda Rugby Union; he represented his country at rugby at U23 level, but a series of injuries forced him into early retirement and robbed him of his dream of playing for the senior team.

"I had a dream to play for the national team, but that dream was not realised," said David.

"But the big thing I was doing with Ugandan rugby was coaching and it's something I would like to get involved in here."

David's love of the sport is how he met his wife.

"She was working in Uganda with a governmental organisation and we met during a rugby game and picked it up from the," said David.

"Two years after we met, we relocated to Nairobi in Kenya and that's where we got married. Two years after that, she was offered a job in Belfast and we decided to move and that is the reason I'm here."

David and his family relocated to Ireland in March last year.

It was a huge change for him culturally and climatically.

"It's a big contrast, but I have a very good impression of the place," he says.

"Lovely people, lovely scenery. I have very good support from my in-laws, they have really helped me with here being a very different place from home.The people of this town are lovely.

"The only downside is I really had to adjust to the weather. It's very cold and a big contrast to where I come from, but I'm getting there."

Importantly, son Liam has also settled well.

He was in born in Kenya in 2017.

His African heritage will be explained and championed by his dad as he grows older.

"I think he has settled in well," said David.

David Olara relaxing at home in Warrenpoint.
David Olara relaxing at home in Warrenpoint.

"He adjusted well to the weather. He likes it here, he runs around a lot. He attends toddler groups in the town and he has already made a few friends.

"I want to try and balance things a bit. Once in a while I talk to him in my native language - most of the time it's English - but I want him to know the other part of the story as well, so I speak to him in the native language of the Acoli tribe in Uganda

"I bought him Acoli dictionaries and books to help him learn and understand it."

Liam's family back home miss the little fella.

But they keep in regular touch through social media and David says they will visit regularly when Liam's a little older.

"Family back home are missing us, especially Liam," said David.

"Liam was born and then we decided to moved, so they have not spent so much time with him and they really wanted to spend more time with him as he grows up, but it will only be a matter of time before we start moving back and forth with him."

For now, David is focused on his future here.

He's a full-time dad at the minute due to mum's busy work schedule.

Holder of a degree in computer science and an experienced animator, he is currently doing a security course to allow him to look for work in the security industry.

"When the time comes, I will get into the right line of work," he says.

But there's no rush yet.

He's spending quality time with his family and enjoying life in his adopted homeland.

"I love it here," adds David.

"I miss home, yes, that's a fact, but I love it here.

"I love being around my lovely child, my wife, being around people that love me and make me feel at home."

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