Big thank you from

Medical girls set to go on African mission

Claire Kendrew Jones receives the Rotary Club of Lisburn bursary award for 2009 from bursary organiser Stephen Gilbert and past president Sandra McCabe Lynda Bell, nurse, and Claire Kendrew-Jones, pharmacist, getting ready to head off to central Nigeria, in Africa, where they will spend a year working in a hospital. US3009-539cd

TWO Lisburn girls are preparing to leave behind life as they know it and spend a year working in Africa.

Pharmacist Claire Kendrew Jones and Lynda Bell, a nurse, are looking forward to travelling to Nigeria in October.

The girls, both aged 23, have been friends since they were at university. Now they are heading off in partnership with Belfast based organisation Mission Africa to help with medical training and updating systemsat the Holley Memorial Hospital, named after a Belfast doctor, at Ochadamu is in Kogi State in the central belt of Nigeria. Lynda explained how the mission trip came about: "Claire and I had been thinking of doing something like this for a long time so we contacted various organisations and once we had some feedback decided Mission Africa suited our medical skills best.

"We had an orientation weekend recently where we heard others speaking of their experiences working in Africa. It was really enlightening."

She added: "It is going to be a challenge of a life time but it is something I can't wait to do. The hospital we will be working in is based in a rural location and local tribes use it, so trying to break down the cultural and language barriers will be challenging. I have been told that witchcraft is still big out in Nigeria and many people will go to a witch doctor as it is cheaper but unfortunately the patient ends up having to come to the hospital much worse than they originally were."

The Rotary Club of Lisburn was so impressed by the girls' plans and their willingness to devote a year to helping others they awarded this year's bursary award to Claire. It was presented to her last week.

Now Claire says she can't wait to embark on the African mission: 'As well as working in the hospital we will be helping out with the HIV/AIDS programmes run by Mission Africa workers already out there and we will be also be involved with kids' clubs.

"It will definitely be an experience like we've never had before and we really hope to make a difference." If you would like to support the girls' mission please contact Claire on

Ulster Star