UUC charity cyclists to aid Kenyan clinic

PHARMACY Department staff and students at the University of Ulster’s Coleraine campus are staging a 250 mile cross-border sponsored cycle ride to provide vital healthcare for children in Kenya.

The five-day ride, ending in Curracloe, Co Wexford, is the latest stage of their aim to raise £5,000 towards the setting-up of a Minor Ailments clinic at a school some 200 miles north of Mombassa, Kenya’s second city. It starts on Saturday, June 16, and will reach its destination on June 20th.

Takaye School, in the Malindia-Watamu area, has 2,300 pupils aged from eight to 16, but it is far from government-run dispensaries.

A clinic there would mean that minor infections and illnesses could be treated quickly and effectively on the spot, which would be of major benefit to the children and local community.

Pharmacy Practice lecturers Dr Kathy Burnett and Mrs Bronagh White and three students hope to complete the 250 miles, cycling about 50 miles each day. Other students are completing legs of the event, with the second day having 11 cyclists, eight on the third day, and seven cyclists on the fourth and fifth days.

Dr Burnett said: “An easy access Minor Ailments clinic, which we have in the form of our local community pharmacies, is a service that we in Northern Ireland take for granted. We sincerely hope that people will join us in our efforts to contribute to the health and well-being of the children of Takaye School and their families.”

The cyclists will start from the Saad Building at the University of Ulster in Coleraine at 10am on Saturday, heading for Dungannon. The next stages will be Dungannon - Cootehill; Cootehill - Mullingar; Mullingar - Carlow; Carlow – Curracloe.

Dr Burnett said: “We welcome any support that people can give us to raise funds for this worthwhile and exciting project. We can be contacted on mobile phone number 07773 287509 if anyone would like more information or make a donation to this worthwhile cause.”

So far this year, the Coleraine-based students and staff have raised nearly £1,900 through a bun sale, the sale of charity Christmas cards, a hamper raffle, a ‘Uniform Day’ and the Pharmacy formal within the Department. Two teams also took part in the Belfast Marathon Relay in support of the charity fund.

The money will be used to provide Minor Ailments Clinic drugs and dressings. A partner charity has agreed to fund the nurse to operate the clinic, if the Pharmacy Department can raise the £5,000 annual cost for the clinic supplies.

“It is important to note that all monies raised by the Department will go directly to the purchase of the clinic supplies,” Dr Burnett emphasised. “No money raised will subsidise trips to the area for staff and students. Any such visits to Kenya, on behalf of the project will be funded individually by each person travelling.”

The clinic initiative is part of a wider charity drive, called the Malindi/Watamu School Development Fund. The Coleraine involvement stems from a visit to that region last year by Dr Burnett and another Pharmacy Practice lecturer, Ms Janet Magee, along with Ms Belinda Ryan, from Curracloe, County Wexford.

Ms Ryan has been involved in raising money for Kenyan charities for several years. The Malindi/Watamu School Development Fund is linked to the Linzi African Project Charity No. 18081.

“Curracloe is where Linzi’s African Project Charity was founded,” Dr Burnett said. “Several Northern Ireland pharmaceutical businesses have generously given corporate sponsorship for this event – Lloyds Pharmacy, WarnerChilcott, Sangers (NI) Ltd, Medicare Pharmacy Group and Almac, and O’Neill’s sportswear have generously donated the cycle shirts. The charity is very appreciative of all this support.”