Two kind-hearted women set off from Kinross yesterday (Thursday) on their annual mercy mission to one of the poorest areas of Ethiopia .
Jo Middlemiss and her cousin Maureen Burnett are making the long journey to Buccama, in the south of the country, bearing clothes and medical equipment for a tiny clinic that helps women suffering from prolapse following childbirth.
It’s a distressing condition that here in the west can be easily rectified - but in a remote community like Buccama the women can be ostracised by their husbands and see their condition as shameful.
The clinic is run by a Franciscan nun, Sister Haimanot, and treats around 2000 women a year who’ve suffered a uterine prolapse due to inadequate care during childbirth.
Maureen (69), who lives in Glasgow, came across the clinic while she was in Ethiopia working at a school, and, having suffered a prolapse herself, was so affected by the women’s plight that she launched an appeal back home in Scotland.
Since then, she and Jo (66), a life coach who lives in Kinross, have made a pilgrimage to Buccama every February and devote the rest of the year to fund-raising in order to buy pessaries, medicines and other medical items.
This year, thanks to large donations from Common Grounds in Milnathort and the Rotary Club in Kinross, they’ve raised the £950 needed to pay a pharmacist’s salary for a year.
Jo has also become well-known locally for her ‘Pants and Pounds’ parties, whereby people donate new pants and contribute to the cost of posting them to the clinic. The women need the pants to help prevent infection setting in after a prolapse.
Though neither has a background in nursing, once the cousins arrive in Buccama, they roll up their sleeves to help with whatever’s needing done - including delivering babies.
“This time a nurse is coming with us and the three of us have literally packed everything we can carry,” said Jo.
“We have a generous 46kg allowance so we are taking as many clothes, baby clothes and pessaries as we can possibly can. We always get a wonderful welcome and greeted as if we are Father Christmas and Mother Claus all rolled into one!”
For more information, visit www.emponline.wordpress.com