GPs on Burkina Faso mission

Alistair and Margaret Robinson in Burkina Faso, working for the Jacobs Well charity.
Alistair and Margaret Robinson in Burkina Faso, working for the Jacobs Well charity.

Former Bridlington GP’s Alistair and Margaret Robertson are currently on a mercy mission to West Africa where they can see at firsthand how the aid that local people give makes a massive difference.

They are visiting a project called The Village of Hope, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso – a school that takes in some of the poorest children in the country and gives them a first class education.

The school offers places to children from the poorest villages, where otherwise they would receive no education and no opportunities in life.

Their parents are illiterate, scratching out a meagre living by growing a few crops and raising a few animals as their forefathers have done for hundreds of years.

Each year, the villagers choose some of their children to leave their mud huts and to go and live in the Village of Hope. Here, they learn to read and write, study maths, physics and all the subjects taught in modern schools.

Children who go on the programme have their lives changed forever. They end up strong, healthy and with great prospects for their lives.

Today some of the graduates are working as nurses, teachers and accountants, earning enough money to send a generous allowance back to their home village for their relatives.

This year the school hopes to open two new departments, one that teaches cookery, the other a technical college, teaching woodwork, metal work and car mechanics.

The classrooms are already built; however, the school is asking for help with equipment to enable them to start.

The cookery department needs pots and pans, casserole dishes, baking trays, cake tins, food processors, large electrical ovens and any other catering equipment they can get.

The technical college is asking for hand tools, power tools, lathes, welding machines, and other workshop machines to enable them to give the boys a practical apprenticeship and qualification.

The leaders of the school have recently launched their own small hospital. In Burkina Faso, people have to pay for every visit to the doctor and for each item that the hospital uses in their care. As a result, the poorest people can’t afford to go for treatment. Jacob’s Well has been supporting this hospital for the past couple of years by sending medicines and invaluable equipment such as an ultra sound machine and a heart monitor.

Now Jacob’s Well is appealing for funds to help them build a brand new operating theatre with a surgical and a maternity ward. Construction on the new hospital began a couple of years ago, but had to stop because funds ran out.

The hospital leaders estimate that it will cost around £30,000 to complete the hospital.

Alistair said: “It is amazing to see how things that would otherwise be discarded can completely change the lives of people in Africa.

“The children sit on chairs at desks that used to be in East Riding schools. The few computers they use, the sports equipment they have, even the plates that they eat off were given by schools in our area! We do not realise what a big difference we can make, if we just try and do a little bit to help.”

Margaret said: “If we can raise the money to finish this hospital dozens of lives will be saved each month. At the moment, the maternity department is one small room, like an average sized bedroom.

“It is unbelievable to see several women giving birth at the same time, lying on mats on the floor almost touching each other.

“£30,000 seems like a lot of money, but if every person in my home town of Bridlington gave just £1, we would have all the money that we need.”

Donations can be given at Jacob’s Well’s shops, Head office in Beverley, by texting: JWAS16 to 70070, or via www.jacobswellappeal.org.