NORTHIAM nurse Charlotte Barnett and her family have just returned from The Gambia where they helped those living in an impoverished village.
She was part of a group of 22 volunteers, which included her parents Tracy and Paul.
Tracy is the chair of the charity BACE (Building and Assisting Communities with Education) who organised the trip.
During the week, in the village of Bonsa, BACE ran a trial health clinic over two days – and more than 150 villagers were seen.
Charlotte was one of the nurses treating patients. Charlotte is a nurse at Benenden Hospital in Cranbrook and is also qualified to nurse in The Gambia. She saw cases of suspected malaria, burns, infected wounds, eye infections and skin conditions.
She was mainly helped by a nurse from Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Nicola Norton and there was also support from two Gambian nurses and interpreters.
BACE are hoping their new clinic will be fully operational later this year.
The charity also runs the Favour Preparatory School in the village and has an allotment project there, which volunteers worked on during the week. The aim of this is to help provide school children with at least one nutritious meal a day.
While Charlotte was nursing, Paul, a postman, led the painting and decorating team, who transformed the new health clinic over the course of the week.
Tracy, who also works for Royal Mail, was busy recruiting a chief nurse for the new clinic and organising a new bore hole, solar panels, fund-raising and many other activities to take the charity’s plans for the future forward.
Tracy said: “It was a very successful trip. We got the clinic painted, the garden is now looking great and we made some fantastic gift bags with children in the school. Running the clinic for two days as a trial let us see what it could be like once it is fully open.
“Everyone involved has helped make such a difference to the Bonsa community and projects.
“We are hoping the clinic will be finished in the next few weeks, at the moment there are no doors or windows, or proper flooring, but that didn’t stop us helping more than 150 people while we were there with their medical issues and concerns.
“We are now working hard to raise the funds for the borehole in the clinic grounds and solar panels to power the electricity for the clinic.”
More on the charity at http://www.bacecharity.org.uk/