A visit to another home country, Ethiopia, woke up a Finnish formula driver – he marvels at the vanity of millionaires

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When a half-Ethiopian formula driver William Alatalo20, visited Ethiopia for a long time in June, one in particular stuck in my mind.

– Homeless children. It takes you to the heart, Alatalo says in the beautiful scenery of Kuortanee.

Alatalo visited his Ethiopian mother Mimi with mainly in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. The streets of the city of ten million people were congested, dirty, and had homeless people sleeping without food or water.

– I especially felt sorry for all the little children who have no parents at all. And they beg on the street for money and food. It really doesn’t look good, Alatalo says.

Four years have passed since the last visit to Ethiopia. Alatalo would have liked to visit the country more to meet his relatives, but the corona era and the civil war still going on in the country changed his plans.

At the end of 2020, a conflict between the federal government and the rebels broke out in the northern parts of the country. Researchers have evaluated According to DW News (you will switch to another service), that up to 500,000 people may have died as a result of the conflict. In addition, more than 2.5 million people have left their homes.

The story continues after the pictures.

The conflict eased a little after the government announced a ceasefire in March, but now months later the fighting has started again.

According to OCHA, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia has deteriorated significantly due to continuous conflicts, violence and climate disturbances, such as prolonged drought.

The second largest country in Africa in terms of population is also one of the poorest countries in the world. In recent years, however, it has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Alatalo can see that many things have changed for the better since the last visit, but progress is slow.

– It doesn’t happen every day that people don’t go hungry. It changes slowly. But what I remember from the last trip, things have gotten better. The city looked better and I didn’t see as many people on the street. There were still a lot of them.

Alatalo mainly visited the country’s capital. He had time to get to know the countryside once when he visited his grandmother’s grave, less than two hours away by car.

Traveling outside the capital is not always safe. In April, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland outlined in a travel bulletin that all travel outside of Addis Ababa should be avoided.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for example, pickpocketing and assaults related to property crimes have increased and become more violent.

– Going outside the city is not very safe. It’s not dangerous, but you have to be a little more precise. I’ve heard that people might steal sometimes. All the people have been nice to me, that I haven’t received such a picture myself, says Alatalo.

According to Alatalo, it looked worse in the countryside than in the city.

– The countryside is beautiful, but how bad people are. Not to mention they have running water or electricity. Exactly one meal of food a day. They were not very healthy. That was the one I remembered the most.

According to Alatalo, in Addis Ababa, on the other hand, some lived in ten-square-meter houses made of sheet metal. The rooms have a mattress and some kind of toilet. Often it was a small hole in the floor.

– Of course we had a great time. We didn’t have a shower or a lot of food, but otherwise it was good. If you went to other locals’ houses, it would be very different. A bed there would be a plus.

Alatalo was on a trip with his Ethiopian mother. His mother studied in Ethiopia, but moved to Dubai after work through Bahrain when she was about 20 years old. There he met someone who was on a business trip Mark’sand the two moved to Finland together.

– My mother and family there have been in fairly good conditions compared to the average level. Food has always been received and there has been a roof over my head. Other people didn’t have quite the same opportunities, says Alatalo.

According to Alatalo, in Finland and in Europe in general, people often have a similar style of thinking about things. Even if things are good, some people still think they are bad.

– Even though things were bad in Ethiopia, people were doing well. They were happy and they were not depressed. Some were homeless, and yet they smiled and talked to people. They didn’t have any problem in mind, even if life wasn’t going so well.

However, in the formula world, Alatalo has been able to witness how well-earning athletes have complained about even minor things.

– I am not that particular myself, but other people are quite particular about how they are served. It doesn’t really matter to me.

For example, there is always something to say about food.

– There is no salt here, this meat is not cooked enough, the bed in the hotel is too hard, too soft or too small and the shower does not get warm water.

– We are in great places and five-star hotels and we eat in good restaurants. Everything is fine, but we can complain about very small things. Sometimes small problems are big problems.

Two different worlds

From Ethiopia, Alatalo returned to everyday life and the formula world, where money plays a big role. For example, driving in the Formula 3 series costs the driver hundreds of thousands of euros.

Money affects results. The more money, the more you can run tests during the season with the right formula. For example, Alatalo drives more with a simulator for economic reasons.

He admits that money makes him think and stress somewhat.

– If you hit a wall, it’s out of your own pocket. F3 costs quite a lot out of your own pocket and it’s not a cheap game. You always have to think about the next season and the next games all the time, when the budget is enough for this, Alatalo says.

– If the other has half as much money, he can go to a better team and drive more. Going into the season, they are ten steps ahead. It really means a lot.

However, the Finnish driver has not lost any sleep. He reminds that money is part of this sport.

– It’s just my own stupidity that I have taken motor racing as a sport. If I had been smarter when I was little, I would have taken a swim or some kind of run, it would have been a little cheaper, Alatalo says.

– However, I’ve liked this and this is where we’ve gone. I hope I can still do this. If the money runs out, it runs out. Then you stop driving or move to a cheaper class. It’s very simple after all.

Alatalo has been dreaming of the royal class of car racing, F1, for 15 years. The 20-year-old Finn has already had to answer several times when he is aiming for a place in the sun.

According to his words, he has a clear plan for the F1 series. However, the year does not matter.

– I have said that 2025 or even 2024 or 2026. It doesn’t matter to me. Of course, you should preferably go there when you’re young, because they want young drivers there

Before that, however, there are many mountains to climb.

– The dream is F1, but first you have to get to F2, do well there and get to the F1 academy. Then you have to get some kind of budget in order to get into formula one, Alatalo sums up.

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