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church of scotland zambia ambulance banner.jpg
Church of Scotland
church of scotland zambia ambulance.jpg
Church of Scotland
Church News

'It was unthinkable for there to be no transport for the sick': Church helps keeps ambulances on the road in rural Zambia

by Tola Mbakwe

A Church of Scotland congregation has helped save lives in a rural community in Zambia by donating funding for ambulances. 

Hope Park & Martyrs Church in St Andrews has raised money to pay for the ongoing essential maintenance of three Toyota Land Cruisers.

They are used to transport people to Mwandi Mission Hospital in the western province of Zambia from communities up to 75 miles away.

The four wheel drive vehicles, which have to navigate very rough terrain and roads pitted with massive potholes every few yards, are also used to deliver vital outreach programmes.

The Church of Scotland said without the cars, the mortality rate of some of the poorest people in the country - infants, new mothers, the elderly and people living with serious conditions like HIV - would undoubtedly soar.

Muriel Gray, mission convener of Hope Park & Martyrs Church which has raised more than £40,000 for the hospital, said people were happy to support the ambulance service through Keith and Ida Waddell - the Church of Scotland's mission partners in Zambia.

Church of Scotland Mission Partners in Zambia - Ida and Keith Waddell.

The married couple, a teacher and a theatre nurse respectively, are employed by the United Church of Zambia (UCZ) which runs the hospital. It serves a population of 30,000 people but currently does not have a doctor.

Mrs Gray said: "Keith and Ida visited Hope Park & Martyrs Church on a furlough visit five years ago and told us about the mission hospital and its challenges.

"Our congregation have been an ongoing support ever since with various projects.

"The recent decision to help repair the ambulances was taken as all three were off the road at the time.

"So for us it was unthinkable for there to be no transport for the sick.

"The congregation gives very generously and knows that every penny raised over the last five years goes directly where it is needed.

"Vehicle maintenance is an ongoing thing and we have just learned that one of the ambulances has had its gearbox repaired and is back on the road.

"Another vehicle is stuck in Mongu with big suspension problems and we are delighted to be helping ensure it is back in service soon."

Unworried Limwanya - driver and trained mechanic in one of the ambulances.

Money raised by Hope Park & Martyrs Church has been used to buy a thermocoagulator for treating women with cervical cancer, water tanks and stands needed in the conversion to solar power, three portable science labs for schools and staff housing.

Mr Waddell said he's so grateful for the support because although the Mission Hospital is a grant aided institution, funding from the Zambian government has dried up because of austerity.

"Running the hospital is a challenge because we currently do not have a doctor which means there are more referrals to the nearest hospital in Livingstone which is nearly three hours drive away," he explained.

"But we cannot do that if we do not have ambulances on the road and sometimes families have been forced to pay for taxis."

According to the Church of Scotland,  Mwandi is known to some people as the cradle of Christianity in Zambia because Scots missionary Dr David Livingstone stayed there and first preached the gospel under a camel-thorn tree in 1853.

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