How did you and your son become involved in On Call Africa?
In 2017 my son Scott and I travelled to Southern Africa on holiday. We went to Cape Town, on safari finishing up in Livingstone, primarily to see Victoria Falls. The hotel we stayed at offered a half day tour of Simoonga village just outside of town. Here is where we we got an introduction to the many challenges villagers face every day – food and water shortages, health care, education and more. Hotel guests typically donated money after the tour but we wanted to find a way to do more.
Once we got back home, we researched charities working in Southern Zambia. On Call Africa clearly stood out as organized, transparent and living on a shoestring. They had a working model that appeared ready to expand with sufficient funding. We discussed ideas with Kirsty, met Trisha on her vacation in New York City. The following summer we returned to Livingstone.
What did you do during your second visit?
During our second visit to Zambia, we spent a full day with On Call Africa’s Project Manager visiting remote villages. It was a long, hot day in a crowded jeep on paths better suited to livestock. As we each passed each stop we seemed to pick up another passenger who was headed in our general direction. At one health post we met with local nurses, listened to their concerns and learned how much they rely On Call Africa’s visiting doctors. We attempted to reach a second health post but it was inaccessible because of high water. By the end of that day we had a sound understanding of the overwhelming health care needs in these villages and the incredibly difficult working conditions. We were hooked and convinced that On Call Africa was the right organization for us.
Did you make the right decision?
It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life to see our hopes realized through the efforts of Ben, UK and Zambian staff and the other trustees. I’ve learned the hard way in business that good ideas aren’t worth much without dedicated people and hard work.
What’s the charity achieved in the past year?
Despite the pandemic, we’ve been able to double the capacity to accommodate volunteer doctors and established a permanent facility in Livingstone for OCA operations. Plans are in place to expand training for community health workers, improve access to clean water and coordinate with the Ministry of Health to establish minimum standards for remote health posts. Hopefully this is just the beginning.
Scott and I are grateful for the opportunity to help make a real difference.
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