Harriet and I (Abbie) have been volunteering with Hospice Africa UK for over a year now through our University, Edge Hill based in Ormskirk, Lancashire. We were all looking for work experience while studying, and upon discovering Hospice Africa we started meeting with Chris Merriman (Chairman) and David Phillips (former chair). Each of us had different reasons for getting involved with the charity but collectively we wanted to explore the inner workings of the charity; understanding the logistics and behind the scenes work that is conducted and also to contribute to its mission.
All three of us are third-year students: Beth studying History, Abbie studying Business and Management, and Harriet Marketing with Advertising. Over the past year, we have helped organise two online quizzes; an interview with our local radio station, BBC Merseyside; and we have supported Dr Anne’s walking challenge which has raised over £70,000. The past year has allowed us to learn how the charity operates and what it looks to achieve in the future; we have had time to familiarise ourselves with the team behind the charity and have started to connect directly with the three Hospice sites in Uganda.
How has HA enriched our knowledge of cancer in LIMC and the huge suffering in Africa:
Prior to working with Hospice Africa, we had not seen cancer from the perspective of those in a low-income nation. Having grown up in a country with accessible healthcare we have been shielded from the devastating effects of the disease when it is not picked up and treated by the NHS. It was heartbreaking to hear that the people suffering with cancer, in all of its forms, have no authorities to call upon for treatment or the very least pain relief. Since 1993 Hospice Africa has been providing holistic care including pain relief for those patients needing palliative care; making their own oral morphine for those at end of life stage.
Image: David, Abbie & Bethany @ EHU
The presence of covid continually reminds me of how lucky we are to have the NHS; having an organisation to turn to when we are sick. Hospice Africa is the support that so many patients in Africa rely upon, but in the midst of a pandemic, the work of the charity is increasingly more difficult. More money is needed to help ensure the safety of patients and staff, while quarantining rules limit the hours they can work.
I can’t see myself leaving Hospice anytime soon, I have always seen myself working with a charity in the long term. As I continue to learn and gain more work experience my skills will grow and goals and ambitions within the charity will change too. I am looking forward to seeing how my natural progression in life will aid my work within Hospice Africa. I do feel it could be beneficial for the charity to take on some more students to create a more diverse volunteering team, potentially sourcing students with specialised skills such as videography, clinical management and advertising.
Abbie and Harriet will be graduating with their undergraduate degrees this summer, following which both will be returning to Northern Ireland to continue volunteering remotely. The pandemic has put our plans on hold but when it’s safe and viable we are all looking forward to visiting Uganda to see the Hospice work first hand! We are interested in seeing how Hospice Africa can progress logistically; Abbie and Harriet’s degrees specialise in advertising and marketing of businesses providing unique and informative insight for the charity.
Our time volunteering has opened our eyes to the crucial work being done by Hospice Africa and we are keen to continue working with the team at Hospice to help develop HAU’s online presence. Recently we have begun connecting directly with the sites in Uganda, the image below taken from a zoom meeting with members of our team from Kampala, Hoima and Mbarara.
Image: Chris, Hannah, Abbie, Harriet, Antonia, Octivia, Germans & Dr. Dorothy Olet.
Hospice Africa global website home page: https://www.hospice-africa.org/
Hospice Africa UK page: https://www.hospice-africa.org/uk/
Dr Anne’s balcony walk fundraising page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=walkingwithawalker&pageUrl=1