A charity set up by a High Peak couple to provide medical care in Uganda is making a huge difference to people in need.
Helena and Robert Brown of Chapel-en-le-Frith established The Olive Medical Mission last year after spending two weeks helping out in a medical centre in Uganda.
During their trip, they saw first hand how vital basic medical care is for people, and how, in one of the poorest nations of the world, a little bit of help can go a long way.
Their first aim was to raise enough money to pay the salaries of the centre’s staff, and thanks to generous donations, this has now been achieved.
“We’re committed to paying the salaries until 2016 and we’ve got the money to do so,” Helena said. “But if we can get more partners on board, we’ll be able to put the salaries up because the staff haven’t had a pay rise for quite a while. They’re lucky though because in Uganda, nurses, teachers and the police have not been paid for four months.”
But a recent epidemic of both malaria and typhoid means the cost of drugs has increased by over £200 a month, leaving the charity needing to find even more money to continue providing vital help.
“For just a small amount of money, we can join together and make a heck of a difference,” added Helena, who is programme co-ordinator for Health and Social Care at Buxton and Leek College. “I said to my students that if they give up less than the cost of a packet of cigarettes each month they can pay to help support these amazing people.”
Despite them both coming from medical backgrounds - Robert as a chiropractor and Helena as a trained paediatric and adult nurse - the challenges facing the clinical team in Uganda have been a real eye-opener for the couple.
“We look at things in terms of British illnesses but it is just not like that,” Helena added.
“A four-year-old walked into the clinic, looking a bit peaky and complaining of ear ache and tummy ache. In a British clinic, we’d probably think it was a middle ear infection. The doctor checked his ear, his tummy and his temperature and decided to get some blood tests. I was thinking what are you doing wasting money doing bloods but when they came back, he had malaria and typhoid. That’s a measure of what they see in these countries.”
Helena and Robert are currently awaiting their official charity number, but are seeking partners for the project.
You can give any amount, either as a one-off, or by setting up a monthly donation, via the website at www.theolivemedicalmission.org.
Robert and Helena are happy to talk to groups and organisations about their work, and can be contacted through the website, by emailing info@theolivemedicalmission or by calling 07731 518776 and leaving a message.