FOR more than 20 years Langholm Rotary Club has been best known for organising the annual Umbrella Walk.
Together with top-ups from local trusts and gift aid, the event has now raised almost £250,000 for local organisations.
This year’s walk has benefited more than 30 groups which will receive cheques totalling £25,000 at next Thursday’s presentation evening.
Inspired by the Langholm connection of Dr Kirsty Luescher (now Tolmie), Langholm Rotary supported Kilsyth Rotary in 2014 to help fund an ambulance for On Call Africa, a charity of which Kirsty was one of the founders and continues as a trustee.
On Call Africa works in a rural part of the Southern Province of Zambia where the population has little or no access to medical services.
On Call Africa has set up and operates monthly medical clinics at nine locations in the province.
The clinics provide free general medical services to patients in remote areas, who would otherwise be unable to access healthcare.
Health education classes and a training programme for community health workers are also provided free for those in the served areas.
In the past year 22 international volunteer doctors worked in Zambia for periods between two and four months.
Eleven volunteer community health workers gave up one day of their time each month to volunteer in On Call Africa medical clinics.
The logistical problems are immense. In most cases, there are no paved roads from the rural health centres to the villages and sick people just simply cannot get to them.
With one doctor for every 16,000 head of population, compared with one in 600 for UK citizens, there is a desperate need to extend the provision of mobile health care to remote communities in rural Zambia.
After a talk by Kirsty at the end of last year, Langholm Rotarians agreed to take the lead in raising funds for a second Toyota Landcruiser ambulance specially adapted for the difficult terrain.
Although the total cost is £35,000, because of matching grants from the South of Scotland Rotary District and Rotary International, Langholm Rotary needs to raise £14,000 to trigger these matching grants and achieve its objective.
A sub-committee of Langholm Rotarians has thoroughly vetted On Call Africa’s track record and future sustainability and become even more enthusiastic about this cause.
Overheads are kept to a minimum and all the volunteer doctors pay their own airfares and subsistence and are accommodated in the Livingstone base in Zambia.
Langholm Rotarians are giving a series of talks to other Rotary Clubs to seek financial contributions and have already secured a donation of £2,000 from Kilsyth Rotary Club.
Langholm plans a number of fundraisers, starting with sponsoring Jilly McCord at the Buccleuch Centre this Sunday in conjunction with Langholm Playcare.
Tickets are still available for this and can be bought from the Buccleuch Centre box office.
Next is a barbecue and silent auction at the Golf Club on Saturday, May 18. Anyone wishing to go along and support, or even just find out more about On Call Africa, should contact Peter Forsyth on 07761 109426 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is Langholm Rotary’s most ambitious fundraiser, apart from the Umbrella Walk and believes it to be very worthwhile, having been inspired by Kirsty and her fellow doctors. Any contributions will be gratefully received.
Anyone wanting more information on On Call Africa can contact Peter as above or speak to any Rotary member who have leaflets with photos and more detail on the work of On Call Africa.