U3A members treated to African charity talk

PUBLISHED: 13:00 02 October 2015

Honiton U3A members learn about Friends of Burburi.

Honiton U3A members learn about Friends of Burburi.


The group welcomed two speakers from The Friends of Buburi – trustee Noreen Collins and volunteer Gwenllian Riall.

At the first meeting of its Autumn programme Honiton U3A welcomed two speakers from The Friends of Buburi – trustee Noreen Collins and volunteer Gwenllian Riall.

Noreen began by giving a brief history of this Kenyan health centre which began in 2003 when land was donated by a local Kenyan to build a clinic for this poverty stricken area.

The work was undertaken by a team of volunteers including the Friends of Buburi founder Jo Hanks.

Unfortunately it did not get off to a good start as the building was completed but, due to the lack of funds for staff and equipment it was not opened.

In 2005 Jo returned again to Buburi and with support from health organisations on the Isle of Wight she took more than 200kg of vital supplies and equipment to enable the health centre to start seeing patients and in 2007 through fundraising and sponsorship, Jo was able to commit to funding a nurse’s salary.

Later Jo was joined by two fellow nurses inspired by her plans for the health centre and as trustees in the UK and with a nursing team in Kenya, Friends of Buburi was formed and gained charity status in 2010.

Gwenllian then took to the floor and explained that as a volunteer and midwife she was made very aware of the lack of ante natal facilities in this area with many women giving birth on their own and in extremely unhygienic conditions.

She came up with the idea of a ‘Birth Bag’ – a cotton bag containing essential equipment such as disposable gloves, soap, a plastic sheet to lie on, cord clamp and blade, cotton nappies, blanket and warm clothes for the baby.

To encourage pregnant mums to come to the clinic for the essential ante natal care these bags are given to them on their fourth visit. These bags make an ideal donation gift for those wishing to give support

With their strong team of UK Trustees who work closely with the Kenyan Ministry of Health and the Buburi Community Committee the clinic has gone from strength to strength.

This year a new extension has been added which is a dedicated unit for mothers and child health and helps to continue the improvement to the health care services available to this poor community.

On behalf of the Honiton U3A, the chairman Susanne Jones thanked Noreen and Gwenllian for this fascinating insight into the work and dedication of The Friends of Buburi Health Centre both in the UK and in Kenya.

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