Fundraising at Dunfermline Gala 2019

At the annual Dunfermline Gala Day on the 22nd June 2019 six volunteers took part in a street fundraising event. In just under four hours £275 was raised through direct bucket donations and other donations given in the evening.

It was wonderful to see the response from the community and with the beautiful weather it was a very positive day.

Many donors remembered the charity from last year and it is hoped that the event will become a regular annual event.

The charity would like to thank the Dunfermline community for their generous support. The trustees also would like to thank the volunteers who took time out from their busy schedules to participate in the event.

Fundraising volunteers

 

Dear Visitor

We rely on donations to continue funding projects in Africa and the UK. Sunrise Africa Relief chooses carefully areas where your donations can make a real impact whilst providing strict oversight to ensure those needing our help receive it. So, you can be assured your donation will be used towards a good cause. We would greatly appreciate any donations you can make. Thank you.

Donations made on May trip to Africa

During a recent trip to Africa we donated around 90 pairs of reading glasses from our partner “Eyes on Africa” to Sandwe and Makala villages in the Eastern district of Zambia. These were presented at the village clinics and were gratefully received – particularly by the elderly who were delighted to be able to read again without effort.

We additionally donated baby knitting which was provided by our ‘knitting lady’ based in Dunfermline. These were also appreciated as Zambia is now going into the winter months of June, July and August.

 

 

 

Dear Visitor

We rely on donations to continue funding projects in Africa and the UK. Sunrise Africa Relief chooses carefully areas where your donations can make a real impact whilst providing strict oversight to ensure those needing our help receive it. So, you can be assured your donation will be used towards a good cause. We would greatly appreciate any donations you can make. Thank you.

Donation to Wanangwa Community Care, Malawi

On the 12th April 2019, Robert Williamson on behalf of Sunrise Africa Relief visited the office of Mrs Tamara Mhura and made a donation of £300 towards the charity “Wanangwa Community Care” based in the North of Malawi. The charity under the leadership of Mrs Mhura is working with elderly widows in the Northern district of Malawi and providing social and economic relief. Mrs Mhura in her closing remarks thanked Sunrise Africa Relief for the monetary donation of £300 and said this would go a long way in providing relief to the plight of the widows in the area especially with the forth coming winter months. She said the money would be used to purchase clothing and food for the widows to sustain them over the coming months.

Robert Williamson on behalf of the Trustees of Sunrise Africa Relief said they were pleased to offer assistance in this area and was hopeful that the village community could get through their current difficulties where there is no government support given. He remarked on his visit to the area a few years ago where he experienced first hand the plight of the villagers and how graciously he was received by the community.

He said he hoped the donation could be stretched as much as possible to help all those in need.

Dear Visitor

We rely on donations to continue funding projects in Africa and the UK. Sunrise Africa Relief chooses carefully areas where your donations can make a real impact whilst providing strict oversight to ensure those needing our help receive it. So, you can be assured your donation will be used towards a good cause. We would greatly appreciate any donations you can make. Thank you.

Presentation of computers to Makale school

On the 2nd of March 2019, Sunrise Africa Relief donated some computer equipment to Makale village school in a remote district of Eastern province in Zambia.

After a three-hour drive on a dirt bush road from Petauke the Sunrise Africa Relief delegation (led by Robert Williamson one of the Trustees) finally arrived at Makale village school.

The school was constructed just after independence in 1965 and although a government school, it still depends on donations from NGO’s and charities for equipment and infrastructure.

The school had requested support in acquiring computers for the senior classes and on this occasion Sunrise Africa Relief could donate 3 computers to the school. In his address the head teacher thanked the charity for their support and said that he hoped this would be a beginning of a continuous cooperation.

Robert Williamson

Dear Visitor

We rely on donations to continue funding projects in Africa and the UK. Sunrise Africa Relief chooses carefully areas where your donations can make a real impact whilst providing strict oversight to ensure those needing our help receive it. So, you can be assured your donation will be used towards a good cause. We would greatly appreciate any donations you can make. Thank you.

Presentation of baby knitting’s at Makale village

On the 2nd of March 2019, Robert Williamson on behalf of Sunrise Africa Relief visited Makale village, a remote village in the Eastern part of Zambia in the area of Petauke.

A presentation of knittings for premature babies and infants could be made to the village clinic.

These knittings are made by a knitting circle of elderly ladies in Dunfermline who knit for the charity.

The clinic staff expressed their appreciation and with the forth coming winter months where the temperature drops to zero degrees the donation was considered very timely.

The knittings are made from pure wool and thus provide a good warmth for new born babies.

It is hoped that the charity will be able to support the clinic with more necessities in the future. This is the only medical facility in the district serving the population in a radius of 20 kilometres.

Robert Williamson

Dear Visitor

We rely on donations to continue funding projects in Africa and the UK. Sunrise Africa Relief chooses carefully areas where your donations can make a real impact whilst providing strict oversight to ensure those needing our help receive it. So, you can be assured your donation will be used towards a good cause. We would greatly appreciate any donations you can make. Thank you.

Presentation of Smart TV and tablets to Barlastone Park School

On the 15th March one of the Trustees of Sunrise Africa Relief, Robert Williamson, visited Barlastone Park School in a poor suburb of the capital city of Zambia, Lusaka to present tablets and a Smart TV to the school.

The school is currently facing a lot of challenges of securing modern equipment and teaching aids and it is hoped that this donation will go towards alleviating this issue.

The school is determined to keep raising standards and to provide a sound education to the children in the area.

Mr Williamson could also meet the headteacher and the teachers and recognised the determination of the staff to overcome current obstacles. A new governing board is being put in place to broaden the appeal of the school.

Robert Williamson, Trustee

Dear Visitor

We rely on donations to continue funding projects in Africa and the UK. Sunrise Africa Relief chooses carefully areas where your donations can make a real impact whilst providing strict oversight to ensure those needing our help receive it. So, you can be assured your donation will be used towards a good cause. We would greatly appreciate any donations you can make. Thank you.

Presentation of sewing machines to Chipata compound Mosque

On the 25th of March 2019, Sunrise Africa Relief donated sewing machines along with a local women’s organisation – WFWP- to the local Mosque in Chipata compound in Lusaka, Zambia.

This Mosque is taking care of the people in one of the poorest suburbs of the capital city Lusaka and is also running a primary school of 400 children.

Hailma, the women’s chairperson of the Mosque had asked for sponsorship as the Mosque is currently facing a lot of challenges and to start sewing classes with the young girls would give them an opportunity to learn a skill.

Sunrise Africa Relief was happy to support this initiative and wish the project a great success to help alleviate poverty in the area.

Robert Williamson, Trustee

Dear Visitor

We rely on donations to continue funding projects in Africa and the UK. Sunrise Africa Relief chooses carefully areas where your donations can make a real impact whilst providing strict oversight to ensure those needing our help receive it. So, you can be assured your donation will be used towards a good cause. We would greatly appreciate any donations you can make. Thank you.

Sunrise Africa Relief sponsors university student from Lesotho

Sunrise Africa Relief are now sponsoring Miss Eun-Ju Sakala, a young university student from Lesotho. Miss Sakala is studying Business Administration and we hope to aid her in completing her education. Here is a letter she recently sent: 

Dear Sunrise Africa

Thank you for your heartedly given support towards my dreams and aspirations making it possible for me to begin my education, of course in a higher level. I do not have much words to express the support you give but from deep down my heart thank you very much. This year towards the end of January, Mrs. Ulrike Currie and her husband paid for my registration making it possible for me to start classes on time. I am officially a Business Administration (B.A) online student of UNICAF-ZM a University under (operated by) the South Wales University. February 11th my first class began, the Induction Module. So far I have been reporting back to Mr. Paul Currie (Uncle) about my grading’s and fourth. This chance will not only empower me to tackle todays issues concerning the youth such as depression and lack of self-discovery but make them understand and see the beautiful (God given) talents and strengths within them and find solutions to help humanity but also themselves weather business wise, artistic wise or even simply having heart to heart consolations. Education plays a big role for it teaches us how to be disciplined, courageous, and idealistic. With your help Sunrise Africa I will be able to achieve my goals and dreams.

Thank You very Much

Eun – ju Sakala
Lesotho

We will share any updates we receive from Miss Sakala on the site as her studies progress.

Dear Visitor

We rely on donations to continue funding projects in Africa and the UK. Sunrise Africa Relief chooses carefully areas where your donations can make a real impact whilst providing strict oversight to ensure those needing our help receive it. So, you can be assured your donation will be used towards a good cause. We would greatly appreciate any donations you can make. Thank you.

2018 Christmas Annual Lunch

On 17 December we held our annual Christmas lunch at the Seven Kings in Dunfermline with volunteers and trustees in attendance.

A good time was had by all. See photos from the lunch below.

 

Dear Visitor

We rely on donations to continue funding projects in Africa and the UK. Sunrise Africa Relief chooses carefully areas where your donations can make a real impact whilst providing strict oversight to ensure those needing our help receive it. So, you can be assured your donation will be used towards a good cause. We would greatly appreciate any donations you can make. Thank you.

Volunteering in a developing country

Volunteering in a developing country: help or hindrance?

To volunteer – to offer one’s services without compulsion or financial recompense – is seen as a commendable activity which enriches both the volunteer and the one(s) who receives; the charity shops which have become so much of a feature of British high streets, for example, could not function without volunteers. But without dampening the spirit of volunteerism, it is always pertinent to ask:

For whom am I doing this? Is it ‘just’ for my ego? Who is benefitting? Can I make a positive contribution to improve somebody else’s situation-is my support appropriate?

Such questions are especially relevant when considering volunteering in a developing country.

A short period spent in Nepal some years ago led me to more deeply ponder these issues, and in my case especially to examine the assumption that skills and training gained in one setting are necessarily appropriate in another. Even before I retired from medical practice, people often made remarks along the lines of: ‘Gosh, – with your qualifications and skills, you have so much to offer to the third world’.  ‘Your experience will always be needed!’

While perhaps being on one level flattered, I doubted whether a Western trained GP, familiar with the diseases of civilization but lacking in practical skills, would be an asset in a developing country. But before finally putting my stethoscope away in the drawer (or donating to a charity shop), I wanted to clarify this point for myself, and so in December 2011, I was on my way to Nepal.

Why Nepal?

Kathmandu capital of Nepal

At the time when I was considering how and where to combine medical volunteering with some adventure, I made the acquaintance of a couple who were missionaries to Nepal, and from this fortuitous meeting developed the decision to make this country my destination. Here on the border with Tibet, towers Sagarmatha (peak of heaven), the great Everest, and although I never entertained the notion of scaling the summit, the prospect of trekking in the Himalayas was attractive. My initial idea of joining an expedition as a medical provider was dispelled by the uneasy consideration that I just might need medical attention myself, and so I decided to join an expedition in the normal way and to follow that by a stint of volunteering in a hospital.

I am proud to say that I did not require medical attention,  although without support, encouragement and sometimes challenge from our team leader, I doubt I would have made it – extreme altitude and exhausting days of trekking certainly pushed me to my physical limits. But ‘no pain, no gain’ and all the effort was rewarded by spectacular views of Everest and other 8000 meter peaks from Kala Patar, itself at an altitude of 5400m.

Our intrepid group with Everest (peak on the left) in the background

I recuperated for a few days in Kathmandu before heading for Nepal’s border with India in the south. Chitwan is about 160 km from Kathmandu, but the journey takes over six hours by bus. These photos give a certain idea of why this is the case.

Van stuck in mud

Motorcyclists in town

The roads in Nepal are appalling-and not only that but donkeys, carts, children are liable to loom up in front from nowhere. Not surprisingly, the road traffic accident statistics are sobering. And as the bus made its way along the main ‘highway’ between Kathmandu and Chitwan, I was reminded of something I had been taught at an expedition medicine course: the most dangerous aspect of an expedition is the travelling to and from airports.

Chitwan hospital is a busy general hospital, built only in 2008, with 500 beds and staffed by about 50 doctors. The staff are almost all Nepalese, and the young doctors trained mostly in China or India: both countries vie for the favors of Nepal. English is well understood and used by the medical staff, much less so by the patients.

The Chitwan hospital

I was a bit of an oddity; the other volunteers were either students or just beginning their careers, and the young doctor who was allocated as my mentor was obviously having a very hard time with me. Eventually he blurted out ‘I’ve never dealt with such an old lady doctor before!’ Well, could I really be insulted? I had already become used to stares on the streets, which I naively attributed to the fact that I stood out as a non-Nepali native. But it was not until one shopkeeper bluntly remarked-‘Nepali women your age just don’t do this kind of thing!’, that I understood more deeply what was going on. Nepali women my age are very old-they look old, the life expectancy is under 70, and they are most certainly not to be found jaunting around the world. 

Anyway, once we had straightened that out, and he reckoned that I might have a sense of humor and be humble and willing to learn, we were able to establish a reasonable working relationship. Pretty soon I realized that my best strategy would be to shadow the doctors and to observe; from the outset I felt that the word volunteer was a misnomer because the hospital was quite adequately staffed and what one could do as a non-Nepali speaking individual was very limited.

The author alongside other doctors

We know that the general economic situation and social circumstances have a great bearing on the prevalence and presentation of disease, and in a country such as Nepal, this is well demonstrated.

Good indicators of health are statistics about life expectancy, as well as infant and maternal mortality. I touched on life expectancy earlier in relation to my own age: were I a Nepali woman, I’d be lucky to live another 5 years.
In the obstetrics clinic, the consultant told me that Nepal was doing well in terms of maternal mortality and morbidity; true in the sense that great improvements have been made in recent years, but the country still lags far behind our own. Figures from 2015 show a maternal mortality of 248/100,000 in Nepal. Corresponding figures for the UK and Germany are 9 and 6 respectively.

The leading cause of death is pulmonary disease (excluding tuberculosis) and most of this is COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Cardiovascular disease, the number one killer in Germany and the UK, comes second.
Smoking is a huge factor-unfortunately where smoking is becoming less fashionable and acceptable in the West, the cigarette companies have targeted new markets in developing countries with devastating results. Another contributing factor is the burning of fuels from indoor fires, to which the women have greater exposure.

A man beside an indoor fire

And of course, the general low standard of sanitation-lack of clean running water and proper waste disposal are factors in the high rate of infectious disease.

Rubbish lying in the street

In all clinics the lack of privacy was unsettling. Most of the consultations were in public rooms, and before one patient encounter was over, the next patient would be hovering over the desk.  And this was the case even in the psychiatry clinic where (presumably-the conversations were in Nepalese) the most intimate details were being shared. The diagnoses were pretty consistent with those in the West-depression, bipolar, schizophrenia along with a large number of miscellaneous neuroses.

The suicide rate in Nepal is not insignificant – people do not throw themselves in front of trains since there are none, neither do they use firearms for the same reason, but a popular method of self destruction is ingestion of poisons – especially those which bring about a slow and agonizing death, such as various fertilizers and fuels.

I think this brings us to an interesting consideration: we in the west tend to have and romantic notions about ‘Eastern spirituality’. Countries like Nepal we associate with a higher level of inner peace than our own, fuelled by images of prayer flags, temples, chanting monks, etc. We assume that life is simpler, uncontaminated by the pressures of civilization and therefore less stressful.

The local church

This is a misleading picture. Life in an underdeveloped country is harsh, and whether because of unhappiness about their external or internal situations, a significant number choose the ultimate escape. Alcoholism and drug abuse are also problems, reflected in the high level of liver disease, especially since much of the alcohol consumed is home brewed and very toxic.

An incident in the pediatrics clinic brings me back to the questions I posed at the start.
Once during our ward round, the door suddenly burst open and in poured about six Americans brandishing cameras- they were really stereotype Americans- who proceeded to comment on the patients and snap photos. I was horrified and glanced at the ward sister who shared my reaction but was too intimidated to protest. And so I took it in hand to point out the rudeness of their actions and ask them to leave, which they did-looking only mildly apologetic.

This is Western volunteer ‘tourism’ voluntourism at its worst. This kind of behavior epitomizes something which has sadly not died out with the old Colonial days-the attitude that we from the civilized world are of course superior, and we know best. Many, especially career starters, see volunteering as a means to do what you couldn’t do at home, a short cut to gaining experience. Or there is a prevailing attitude-‘well at least what I am doing is better than nothing-they should be grateful!’ Why do we need to explain and ask consent?’  But we really need to examine these assumptions and consider whether a much better perspective might be to invest in and promote local training and competence.


I certainly do not want to give the impression that volunteering in a developing country is a useless act of misplaced idealism or even selfishness. There is nothing wrong with the expectation of personal benefit from volunteering; no one does anything in order to have a bad experience. But whether an expert in one’s field or simply a good-hearted novice, it is essential to keep in mind and adhere to a few basic principles:

  • Have a clear idea of your own capabilities and limitations. Keep a humble attitude – be willing to learn
  • Know and respect the local situation.  Suggestions for improvement may be inappropriate or unworkable under local conditions.

  • Take care of your own health!

For me, the time in Nepal closed the book, so to speak on my clinical career and finally laid rest any thoughts I may have had about using my medical background as a third world volunteer or expedition doctor.  Now when anyone remarks that I have skills and talents that I should be using for the less fortunate in other countries- I can simply smile knowingly.
An anesthetist, surgeon or obstetrician can contribute a great deal in a developing country, but what a GP without knowledge of the local language can offer is very limited.

And there are many ways to volunteer and support the less fortunate; my brief intermittent stints behind the counter in the (sadly now closed) Sunrise Africa relief shop in Dunfermline brought me great  enjoyment and perhaps contributed as much to the projects in Zambia as my physical presence there would have done.

Catriona Valenta can be contacted via FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/catriona.valenta

Dear Visitor

We rely on donations to continue funding projects in Africa and the UK. Sunrise Africa Relief chooses carefully areas where your donations can make a real impact whilst providing strict oversight to ensure those needing our help receive it. So, you can be assured your donation will be used towards a good cause. We would greatly appreciate any donations you can make. Thank you.