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Inspirational fundraisers for Project Harar

Words by Smiley Team

A group of volunteers will be cycling from London to Brighton to raise money for a small but ambitious charity working in Ethiopia. 

Project Harar provides safe access to essential cleft lip and palate surgeries as well as treatment and surgery for more complex facial disfigurements. It works in some of the most disadvantaged and hard-to-reach communities.

Every year, Project Harar and its extended international volunteer team who specialise in maxcillofacial and plastic surgery join in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa for a surgical collaboration with Yekatit-12 government hospital. This has since been adapted into a global lecture programme in collaboration with UCL Head and Neck Achedemic Centre, that reaches medical professionals from all over the world.  

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During this time, people come from the most remote areas of Ethiopia with complex and often life-threatening facial disfigurements, including severe burns, large tumours and a Noma, that can be a result of malnutrition.

On 19 Sept, 19 people will be cycling to help the charity raise vital funds for their work in Ethiopia. We caught up with two of them to hear their stories. 

“This charity means a lot to me”

Helena Scott, 59, who lives in London, is a consultant anaesthetist. In 2014, she was approached by Professor Mark McGurk to help out with Project Harar’s complex surgical mission to Addis Ababa. “It was a bit of a life-affirming trip and I have been fortunate to be able to go on three subsequent missions,” she says. “Each time my fundraising theme was that whilst others could run, ride or bake, the only thing I can do is give anaesthetics!”

This year, she has tried to up her game. She started cycling to work during the lockdown to avoid public transport and jumped at the chance to try and prove herself by riding from London to Brighton for Project Harar.

“This charity means a lot to me,” she says. “Not just the life-changing complex surgery that I have been involved with, but all the other work done behind the scenes in early years health promotion, infant nutrition and access to cleft lip and palate surgery. I have made many friends and been privileged to meet some amazing people.

“I hope people will choose to support Project Harar on this occasion – in the midst of so much desperate need globally, it's hard to know where to send hard earned money. I do believe that the way Project Harar is set up means that donations are used efficiently to help make a real difference to a lot of people’s lives."

"The volunteers all are enriched by their selfless devotion to the charity."

Matt Fisher, 42, from Napsbury Park, is also taking part in the ride. “I’m really excited to undertake with it friends and fellow supporters of Project Harar,” he says. “I have done a few ultra endurance events in the past but I have a soft spot for London to Brighton and the infamous Ditchling Beacon!”

Matt has been involved with Project Harar for past seven years. “I was fortunate enough to go to Ethiopia in 2015 and 2016 to see first hand the great work that the charity does,” he says. “I was the charity's official photographer and have made a couple of short fundraising films from my footage taken in and around the hospitals and communities of the patients and have photographed the complex surgical programme.”

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“It’s a very real charity, positively and radically affecting the people and families that it seeks to serve,” says Matt. “The volunteers all are enriched by their selfless devotion to the charity; it's a family helping family. A wonderful spirit captivated and promoted by the late founder of the charity and a cherished and missed friend, Johnathan Crown.”

Matt says the charity is small, but “packs well above its weight”.  

“Supporters get involved and attract more sponsors which then enables more people to get treated. The smiles of all involved; patients, their parents, families and friends, the smiles from all the volunteers that form the family are life-affirming."

Find out more about Project Harar and donate here

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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