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Jess' Blog No.1 - An Introduction

Jess' Blog No.1 - An Introduction

If you had told me at the start of 2016 that my year would be rounded off by me ticking off one of bucket list items, I wouldn't have believed it! Yet here we are in November and my dream of visiting a developing country to volunteer and make a difference is happening.

In September I was invited to visit Ethiopia with a customer, Jane Innes-Rees. Proposals and agreements were made and I am flying out on 20 November.

First thing was to book in for my injections. As someone who isn't a big fan of needles, there have been a LOT, including hepatitis, rabies and yellow fever (that hurt the most!) and a delicious fruity smelling drink that actually tasted a bit fishy, to protect me from cholera.

The next bit was to find out more about the country, what my hands on role will be while I'm out there and, most importantly, how Wesleyan and I could make a difference.

With a trusty guide book I began reading up about the history and culture of Ethiopia. Growing up in the 80s I remember the images of a famine and country ravaged by civil war and unrest. From what I have seen and read so far, Ethiopia has survived these years of turmoil and is now booming, with one of the world's fastest-growing economies.

My Role

I soon as I land in Addis Ababa on 21 November I will be whisked off (with my 46kg luggage allowance!) to St Paul's Hospital, where I will be delivering a micro motor, a vital piece of dentistry equipment which will be of real benefit to the students and patients. I'll meet with the head of the hospital and explore how redundant dental and medical equipment, something which many of our retiring customers will have, could be used.

That evening I fly to Mekelle, on a propeller plane, which is something that is making me a bit nervous... Thankfully I will be with Jane and a number of other delegates, and be so full of excitement, that I will hopefully be able to keep my mind off it!

Then, for the next seven days, I will be visiting the Ayder Hospital and meeting with the Dean of the medical school and the Medical Director, as well as being allowed on to the burns unit, the paediatric ward and following a medical student around for the day for a 'day in the life' video as well as delivering some vital text books for the Maxillofacial surgery department.

There is also a chance of visiting rural clinics with a nurse who works for the Clinton Foundation, who supports mothers and children affected by HIV and Aids related illnesses.

Towards the end of the week I will be spending a couple of days at Elshadai Children's Village. This amazing place was set up in 1988 and while it is still a working farm, it is also home to 160 orphans. The owners of the farm, Alem and his sister Teberah, have built a kindergarten, school, dining room with kitchen and accommodation blocks.

The children attend the onsite school, learn the UK curriculum and many of them have graduated to become doctors, teachers and even a vet who comes back to look after the animals on the farm. I have toys, school uniforms and books to deliver which will aid learning and development.

My experience of charity fundraising, grants and funding and governance of charities will be put to use here with the committee from Elshadai and supporting them to explore new ways of income generation.

The owners of Elshadai don't want to rely on just money handouts, they want to be self sufficient and this is something I really hope to help with in a personal and professional level.

Follow our journey

You can keep on touch with what we are getting up to across our social media channels, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as well as on our website which will be full of daily updates, images and hopefully video (wi-fi dependent). You can also follow the #ethiopiasos hashtag on Twitter.

I am so honoured and privileged to be given this opportunity and I do hope you all follow what we are up to out there and give your support.

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