While one of our trustees, Dr Dom Moor, was in Uganda earlier in the year, he visited a very remote region on the Congolese border called Bundibugyo. Bundibugyo used to have two doctors for a region of roughly 200,000 people, but after a severe Ebola outbreak killed one of the doctors last year, there is now only one doctor for a population the size of Southampton and an area rather larger. A medical assistant at the hospital – Amon Bwambale – was very keen to train to be a doctor and then come back to work in Bundibugyo (where his family lives).
The Trust is therefore giving Amon a bursary to fund his medical training (£2,500 a year for 3 years), with the proviso that he return and work in the region once he has finished his training. When he does, he will increase the number of doctors in the area a hundred percent.
This is a fantastic opportunity for Amon as the medical fees would have been unaffordable without our help. It also allows us to contribute to the longer term assistance of the region, in a sustainable way. We are currently also looking at other opportunities in the Bundibugyo area. Amon started his training in October and we will continue to get updates from him during his course.
Primary school enrolment in Uganda is now 90% of those eligible, but enrolment at secondary level is only 15%. Millions of young Ugandans have no opportunity to continue their education; they risk being without employment, falling into crime or limited to work using the skills of their parents.
PEAS (Promoting Equality in African Schools) was started in 2002 by John Rendel, a young British teacher, to set up low fee/high quality secondary schools in impoverished rural areas. To date three have been opened (2003, and two in 2008) with 1500 students.
PEAS sees itself as a social investor rather than a charity and the schools are designed to develop sufficient internal revenue to continue to provide services indefinitely, and help provide capital to start new schools.
Our funding of £750 is helping fund a £6,000 (now raised) project to teach students to look after bees and market and sell the honey they produce. Further income generating projects will include a fish farm, forestry centre and potentially a solar engineering centre. The idea is not to train a school of honey makers, but to teach enterprise and commercial skills in a practical situation.
For further information, please see: www.peas.org.uk.
We are very excited to have linked up with San Francisco and Ugandan based Global Partners in Anasthesia and Surgery (GPAS) and given our largest donation yet to this brilliant project in Kampala.
Like many developing countries, Uganda does not have an ambulance service and yet injury (especially road injury) is the fourth highest cause of death in the country. The injured have to make their way to hospital by any means available – car, bicycle, van – and there is no care available prior to their arrival in hospital. Compare this to the fantastic service offered by our ambulance and paramedics and it is not surprising that pre hospital trauma care has been shown to reduce medically preventable deaths by 50% in high income countries.
This is a pilot project training 300 taxi drivers and policemen (who are often the first to be on the scene of an accident) in Kampala with the basic skills, knowledge and equipment to help at the scene of an accident and aid proper transportation to hospital. The training materials are all available on the internet for other organizations and countries to use, if they are interested. Like all the best ideas, it is very simple – but if it works, it will provide a model for developing countries everywhere.
The Trust provided funds for GPAS to undertake refresher courses, restock basic equipment (such as plastic gloves) and, importantly, to undertake a proper study of the impacts of the pilots. The information coming out of the study can then be used to talk to bigger funders about expanding the pilot and use of the project, in Uganda and elsewhere.
The series of refresher courses has now been held and the volunteers recorded high levels of knowledge retention and applicability, which is heartening given none of them had previous medical experience. Enthusiasm remains high, and discussions are currently ongoing about how this might be made a more formal part of police officer cadet training in the future.
The people involved in this project are inspirational, and have a good deal of experience in the ground in Uganda – one of the partners is Dr. Jackie Mabweijan, head of Mulago Hospital A and E. We look forward to continuing to work with them as their project progresses and will provide updates in due course.
To find out more, visit www.globalpas.org and see pictures and read the blog.
The Trust was delighted to donate £2000 to a project close to home – the New Horizon Youth Centre in Kings Cross, London.
The Centre works with very disadvantaged young people, to gain skills and knowledge to improve their life chances and help them move from adolescence into adulthood. Based in the Kings Cross, Somers Town area of London, the centre sees up to 3000 young people a year and is open seven days a week. They provide a huge range of services, from drug counseling, housing advice and education projects to some very basic but necessary practical things: food, laundry and showers. They've got a fantastic record in helping young people turn their lives around. See www.nhyouthcentre.org.uk/success.html for more details, and for details of volunteering opportunities at the centre.
The money that the Trust donated will go towards a literacy and numeracy project being launched by the centre – providing one to one coaching and group sessions every week for four hours. This will help those who have only an extremely basic level to develop their literacy and numeracy skills to a standard that will build on their confidence and self esteem and equip them to make a positive contribution to society.
The Trust has given a grant of £1600 to COPA, a charity that supports schools and health clinics in poor communities in the Dominican Republic. Short and long term volunteers work alongside local professionals to provide medical and educational care in two communities – Le Hoya and Bombita. Verity Threlfall, a friend of Laura's from Cambridge, has been involved with COPA since her gap year and put us in touch with them. Further information on COPA can be found here: www.copa.org.uk/copahome.html.
The Trust made a grant to Sponsored Arts for Education (SAFE), which uses theatre to spread life saving messages about HIV/ AIDS to the most remote and under served areas in Kenya. As a traveling organization, it is able to reach areas that do not have access to basic information – either through radio, TV or posters.
The particular project we have donated to is 'SAFE GHETTO'. This is a company of talented young performers from the Nairobi slums, who will be enabled to earn a living from acting while educating their fellow community members about HIV and inspiring compassion for HIV sufferers. SAFE's world–class dramas make audiences laugh and cry, move them to think beyond stigma and discrimination and allows them to learn lessons of the heart, as well as vital medical information. Our donation will contribute to the training of actors into peer educators, who school children can approach for advice on sex, condoms, STDs, and how to practice behaviours, such as faithfulness and abstinence, to protect themselves from HIV.
What SAFE is doing is revolutionary: in the context of the Nairobi slums, theatre can save lives, SAFE has witnessed a three to fourfold increase in testing in collaborating hospitals following SAFE performances, and hopes that more people will be encouraged to get tested after receiving counseling from our peer educators and HIV counselors after the shows.
While HIV/ AIDS is clearly an enormous killer in Africa, a huge amount of money is already being put into this area. In the spirit of doing more with less, the Trust has not yet sponsored any infection disease projects – it is a very crowded area. However, SAFE's approach is so different and inspiring, we wanted to help out. More about SAFE can be found here: www.sponsoredarts.org.
Two friends of Laura's have recently been out on separate trips to Uganda – Dr Dominic Moor, one of our founding trustees, and his elective partner Dr Dagan Lonsdale. Both had spent their electives in Uganda and went back to the hospital where they had worked – Virika in Fort Portal, southern Uganda. Dom already knew the Pediatric Ward was in dire need of a foetal Doppler probe – a very basic piece of equipment used to monitor feotus' in their mothers. The trust bought this and Dom took it out with him. While he was there, he was able to find out what other basic things were needed – in this case, essential but low-tech mosquito nets and capacity for making oral hydration solution. So the Trust bought these, and on his subsequent trip Dagan was able to erect them, and to train staff in the use of the Doppler probe. The trust also part funded computers for the hospital. We are very clear that we want to do things that are sustainable – so it was as important to us that both Doctors were able to do some training and work on the ground, as it was that the Trust was able to buy the equipment. Technology alone doesn't save lives – skills do.
In all, the Trust funded approximately £450 of equipment and both doctors came back full of future projects ideas for the Trust. Read their accounts, and photos from, their trips here:
Dr Dominic Moor, April 2008...
Dr Dagan Lonsdale, April 2008...
While the Doctors Packs are general medicines, IHP are currently developing a Maternal Pack in conjunction with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and WHO's Making Pregnancy Safer team. Each pack will focus on the essential medicines needed to treat up to 1,000 complications in pregnancy and childbirth. The Trust has donated £5,000 towards the development of this project. IHP work out that each £1 donated to them results in £10 - 15 of essential health care services to the developing world.
We were particularly interested in the method of getting the packs to those in need, i.e. doctors going out to work on the ground ? because this helps ensure the right medicines get to the right place. Had she been aware of these packs when she went out to Uganda, we are sure that Laura would have wanted to take one with her.
A link to IHP can be found here: www.ihpuk.org.
The Trust has donated 400 towards building accommodation for project workers for a new project in Northern Afghanistan, set up to help reduce infant and maternal deaths.
For more information about HealthProm see: www.healthprom.org.
We have teamed up with another charity, MedAid (who have very good links in Uganda), to ship 20 medical beds to the hospital where Laura worked in Uganda, called Kisiizi.
MedAid had been given the beds, but had no way of meeting the expensive shipping costs. We were very pleased to be able to donate £5,000 to ensure the beds reached those who needed them.
Beds are a scarce resource in rural hospitals in Africa. The lack of such a simple piece of equipment was one of the things that Laura was most aware of while she worked there. When asked by one of the nurses in Kisiizi what the main differences were between hospitals in the UK and Uganda, she said "Well, in the UK, there is usually only one person per bed, rather than the four here".
The beds were shipped on February 11th 2008. See the acion in these photos:
The Laura Case Trust has recently given a grant of £1500 to an inspirational young charity called READ International.
READ's premise is simple - they collect good quality second hand school books in the UK and send them to schools in Tanzania, where the secondary school syllabus is very similar. So instead of waste here and one book per class of thirty in Tanzania, they reduce waste and the students have the chance of having a book of their own. The collection of books is all done by UK university student volunteers, so the main overheads are shipping costs.
Our £1500 donation will pay for 3000 school books to reach Tanzanian school children - 50p per book.
We're particularly pleased to be supporting READ because the aim behind their project - of sending educational material that is no longer used in the UK to people that need it in the developing world, through student networks - echoes one of our longer term aims. As some of you may know, we are exploring how we might use the UK medical elective system to transport medical equipment - and in particular second hand UK medical equipment - to rural hospitals in Africa. We are at the beginning of this exploration but meeting the guys behind READ was a real inspiration.
To learn more about READ International, go to: www.readinternational.org.uk/bookprojects.