A Kinross woman who set up a medical clinic in Ethiopia a decade ago has been recognised with a national award for her efforts, which have helped more than 8000 women in the African nation.
Jo Middlemiss began the Ethiopia Medical Project (EMP) with her cousin Maureen Burnett ten years ago after the pair travelled to the country “on a jaunt” to see if they could help in any way.
The retired grandmother, who is in her seventies, has now received a Rotary UK Community Champion Award which recognises outstanding humanitarian service.
Jo said: “The EMP started from very small and humble beginnings.
“By chance, my cousin Maureen and I came across the Buccama Clinic in Southern Ethiopia.
“This little clinic was struggling to look after hundreds of women suffering from uterine prolapse, in its most severe form.
“The clinic did not have the resources to feed and care for these women, let alone give them the medical care which they needed.
“Initially, we thought we could help in small ways – food, mattresses and maybe some contributions towards medicine and surgical care. That was 10 years ago.”
Jo and her cousin embarked on mission to learn about the condition and see how best they could intervene.
She said: “Hygiene education, introduction of underwear and a very simple procedure can send most women back to normal life.
“That became our core work. We fundraise all year long for the clinic, its staff and many of the things it needs.
“The highlight of this work has been the shift in attitudes towards the silent suffering of the women.
“Our motivation is the satisfaction from implementing these simple things and making a real difference to individual lives and the whole community.”
Jo said as the clinic grows in size the need for extra funding also increases and they are actively looking for a sponsor to help continue the life-changing work.
The clinic employs 22 staff, includeing five qualified nurses.
She said: “What we really, really need is some kind of fund or sponsor that will match us on the funds.
“We’ve taken on a lot and we need more than just friends and family and good people.
“Our fundraising efforts in Scotland take many forms – we speak to many groups and organisations who have taken an interest in us.
“I am particularly grateful to Rotary clubs throughout Scotland for all the support that we have received from them.
“I am humbled and honoured to receive this award and I’d like to dedicate it to the noble people of Southern Ethiopia, who in most cases have nothing but what they stand up in, yet are loving, long suffering, and proud.
“They are what make us get up in the morning.”