Transaid Chief Executive Gary Forster shared an impassioned example of the international development organisation’s life-saving work at its annual showcase event on 21st October, held at the London offices of law firm Eversheds.
Addressing 100 corporate supporters, together with long-time Transaid patron HRH The Princess Royal, Gary told the moving story of a volunteer health worker called Josephine Mupeta from Zambia, who rides a bicycle ambulance placed in her community as part of a Transaid maternal health programme.
He said: “Last November Josephine had just collected a pregnant woman to transfer to the health facility when they encountered a second woman, also in labour, and struggling to walk to the same medical centre. Josephine moved the first woman to the rear of the bicycle and placed the second woman – whose condition was more serious – on the stretcher. She then cycled the remaining two hours to the health facility unaided, saving all four lives.”
Transaid presented the story as just one example of how its bicycle ambulance projects have empowered local communities to do more – with a team of 200 trained bicycle ambulance riders transferring 4,105 mothers to health facilities in the first two years of the project.
“We are hugely grateful to the transport industry for funding the original research which led to the introduction of bicycle ambulances and we thank Comic Relief for financing the scale-up of this programme, which allows us to work with partners in-country to continue saving lives.”
The Princess Royal praised both the fundraising support and access to skills which Transaid enjoys from the transport and logistics industry. Commenting on the organisation’s professional driver training projects, she said: “Your support is vital to our ability to help the local partners we work with, as well as to inspire professionals on the ground. Our ability to improve road safety through the proper training of trainers means we can make a huge impact.”
Visitors to the showcase also heard first-hand accounts of Transaid’s work from Silvio Sorrentino, Operations Manager for ALSA (part of National Express Group), who spent three months managing a professional driver training scheme for truck and bus drivers in Malawi.
Silvio was joined by Dr Yvette Ribaira, Deputy Chief of Party for the new USAID Community Capacity for Health programme in Madagascar. Dr Ribaira is employed by JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. (JSI) and is a medical doctor with a master’s degree in public health, who has dedicated nearly 20 years of her life to improving community health in Madagascar – in the last five years working closely with Transaid.
Transaid was founded 18 years ago by Save the Children and the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK). Its work focuses around a set of beliefs that every driver should be able to go out for a day’s work without the fear they may not come home due to dangerous vehicles or a lack of training; that every family should be able to access emergency health services; and that every community should be able to build skills and transform their opportunity to make a living.