The projects we are raising funds for at present are:
- Dr Ray Towey’s work:
For the last 22 years Dr Towey has dedicated his life to the improvement of health care for the poor in Africa. He has worked as an anaesthetist in rural hospitals in Nigeria and Tanzania and has spent the last 12 years in St Mary’s Hospital Lacor, Gulu, Uganda, training doctors, anaesthetist and nurses in intensive care and anaesthesia.
African Mission has assisted Dr. Towey in his work at St. Mary’s Hospital which has not only enabled him to give effective care to some of the poorest patients in the world in the field of anaesthesia and intensive care but also enabled him to carry out peer reviewed published research which will give inspiration to current and future health workers in sub-Saharan Africa. A summary of this study can be found elsewhere on this website.
St Mary’s is a not for profit, church supported, general hospital of 476 beds in northern Uganda. For many years it has had a small four-bed Intensive Care Unit near the operating theatre, which was upgraded to an eight-bed unit in 2005. It is a teaching hospital for anaesthetists, medical students, nurses and laboratory technicians and it is attached to Gulu University Medical School. The majority of the patients are the rural poor and can come from remote areas up to 100 miles away from Gulu.
African Mission has provided Dr Towey with medical equipment consisting of oxygen concentrators, monitoring equipment, ventilators, laryngoscopes and intravenous catheters. African Mission has also provided text books for training and drugs when needed.
Dr Towey’s focus has been on the anaesthesia and intensive care departments. His most pressing need at present is for a ventilator machine for the intensive care ward. One of the most valuable and lifesaving capacities of any intensive care unit whether in Africa or in Europe is to support the respiration of patients who cannot breathe. Sometimes even a few hours of resting the patient on a ventilator may be a lifesaving intervention.
Dr Towey writes … “The Glostavent Helix anaesthetic machine [photo overleaf] is designed to give anaesthesia in remote and very harsh conditions as experienced in rural sub-Saharan Africa. Electricity cannot be relied upon and oxygen cylinders which have to be collected from the nearest large town are always in short supply and the nearest large town may be hundreds of miles away on roads often in a very poor condition. In St.Mary’s Hospital Lacor, Gulu we have 6 operating theatres which carry out over 5,000 operations a year. Two of our theatres are lacking modern anaesthetic machines such as the Glostavent. Our hope is to provide a Glostavent in each of the two remaining theatres. The Glostavent incorporates an oxygen concentrator so each machine produces its own supply of oxygen and if the electricity fails the anaesthetist can support the patient’s respiration by manually compressing a bag. The machine is designed to be locally serviced by hospital engineers so that the machine is sustainable. The unmet surgical needs of Africa are enormous and a machine such as the Glostavent provides anaesthetic capacity to support the surgeons doing their best to meet the surgical workload of northern Uganda.
The Glostavent Helix (including shipping costs) costs £14,145. St. Mary’s Hospital have agreed to cover 50% of the costs and we hope to raise the other 50% – £7,072.
- Education for disabled children (Fatima Mission, Zimbabwe):
Fatima Mission is a very large mission (900 sq kms in size) based in rural Zimbabwe. The majority of those living within its boundaries are poor subsistence farmers reliant on Maize, Chomolia (a green vegetable) and a few cows, goats or chickens as their only source of food. The mission is run by a Franciscan Catholic priest and a Franciscan Sister. The priest in overall charge is Fr Jeya who has been at the mission for over 11 years. It has a church, a pastoral centre, a number of primary and secondary schools, a clinic and a project for disabled children within its boundaries.
A particularly vulnerable group living within Fatima Mission are those who are disabled (blind, deaf or mute) and Fr Jeya was particularly anxious that they should be given the opportunity of an education. 19 disabled children live at the pastoral centre during term time and attend a nearby school (with the exception of one who attends a different school). The school is the only school in the province offering a specific education for blind and mute children. Above is a photo of some of the children at school. In addition to their academic education they also learn skills to help them live and prosper with their disabilities. Before coming to Fatima many of these children led very isolated lives and were faced with a bleak future. Thanks to the educating they are receiving and the fact that they are living in community with others, their confidence and ability to relate with others is growing.
Of the 19 children, 9 are unable to speak, 3 are totally blind and 7 are partially sighted. Many of the children were being looked after by a single parent or a relative, many of whom who are in poor health and living in poverty. It costs £485 per year to cover the school fees and living costs for each child.
Due to the success of this project, Fr Jeya intends to increase the number of disabled young people benefiting from it. It is his intention to make it a permanent project so that all of the disabled young people living within Fatima Mission’s boundaries have the opportunity of an education.
- Activities centre for disabled children (Fatima Mission, Zimbabwe):
At the end of the school day there are no activities to occupy the young people. Fr Jeya would like to rectify this by building an activities centre. What he has in mind is a large room with three smaller rooms off the large room. The large room would be dual purpose i.e it would be used as a dining room and a sports room (when not being used for meals). One of the three smaller rooms will be used as a library, a second room will be used as a music room and the third as a computer room. To date (October 2017) we have raised £24,628 of the £54,564 needed to build this activities centre.