About the Trust
- Establishing the Medical Centre in Lalibela.
- Supporting it in becoming a self-sufficient operation.
- Growing future medical skills in the region to continue this work.
It was formally registered with the UK Charity Commission on 20th January 2021 and is assigned the registration number 1193161.
How it all began…
Three things conspired to breathe new life into this unexpected project.
First, in 2012 Trevor visited Lalibela, a world heritage, site to see the amazing underground Christian churches.
Second, out one night in the very dark streets, he was approached by a man. The man said he wanted nothing except to show him something a few streets away. Trevor was led to a young farmer lying on a stretcher, surrounded by family and friends. The man’s left arm had signs of advanced gangrene; a death sentence without the funds for an amputation. It was the result of a snake bite some three months earlier. Whilst not the sightseeing he was expecting, Trevor recognised the gravity of the situation, provided the funds for the amputation and the young man was taken the following day to a medical centre, two days’ travel away.
Third, the following day, Trevor met another young man, Adisu Mekonen Getu. Adisu, 18, was born and bred in Lalibela. Falling into conversation with this young man, Trevor enquired whether working as a tourist guide provided a good living. Turns out it does not. He asked what Adisu would prefer to do. He responded he’d like to do something ‘more worthwhile’ and expressed an interest in doing nursing as a means of giving something to the local community.
Needless to say this resonated with Trevor’s experiences of his trip. Following his return to England, over the next few weeks, the two men corresponded, discussing the country’s healthcare system, the desperate shortage of qualified medical personnel, worsened by the widespread desire to emigrate once qualified and earn vastly higher incomes elsewhere. And so, a deal was struck: Trevor would sponsor Adisu through the first three months of his nursing diploma. On the condition of glowing reports, sponsorship would continue. Happily for Adisu, he did glow and Trevor went on to sponsor him through six years of study. Again, one condition was imposed: that he remain in Ethiopia once qualified and help the people there. Adisu accepted the restriction without hesitation. It was a hard slog for this young man, living and studying far from his family, with little money to live on. He gained his diploma and subsequently his nursing degree. In 2018, six years later, aged 24, he graduated from the University in Addis Ababa, with a first class honours degree. So impressive was his ability, that he was asked to stay on as a lecturer. Most of his cohort immediately emigrated, taking their skills but leaving their people behind.
It had, however, been Adisu’s dream for many years to bring medical facilities to his home region, to support the 35,000 farmers and other workers in the area. During Adisu’s hospital placement there were ten doctors, twenty health officers and twenty-five nurses to serve a population of 380,000. Divided into three shifts, this translates into three doctors, six or seven health officers and about eight nurses to service a pool of 380,000 potential patients. Staying in Ethiopia was something close to his heart.
This led to the second phase of the project. Trevor flew out to Ethiopia to meet with Adisu and his brother, and look for some land on which to build a clinic. An architect developed plans, Adisu negotiated the purchase of land and the build began, overseen by Adisu and his brother.
A GoFundMe initiative was launched to raise funds for the building phase. Adisu is the assigned lead nurse and manager of the centre. In Ethiopia most medical centres are managed by nurses, with doctors visiting only occasionally for the more advanced problems. When it is not possible to get a doctor to attend, relatives have to carry patients to the nearest available help, a journey which can amount to three days. Often a mule will drag a stretcher on poles along the rough tracks, which join the villages to the towns.
Adisu’s driving ambition is to promote health education, in order to reduce the number of childhood and obstetric illnesses. Vaccination will be at the forefront of his drive for the active prevention of common illnesses, facilitated by talks and large screen TV programmes. He hopes that the reliance on rural medicine men will decline as superstitious beliefs are explained. This will encourage local people to seek help earlier, from a more educated source. The belief that illness or misfortunes are punishments sent by God is widespread.