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The teddy bears have their own passports and will make their journey with the medical students

Truro medical students to deliver hand-made teddies to children in Ethiopia

Medical students are heading by bear-o-plane to Ethiopia to volunteer in a new Maternity unit in Ethiopia, whilst delivering teddy bears to local children.

The troupe of hand-made teddy bears from Cornish crafters will bring cheer to children in Lalibela, Northern Ethiopia, many of whom have never had a toy in their life.

The teddy bears were created by a group of staff and their relatives through the Cornwall Health Library Craft Group in Truro run by Rebecca Wright.

The Teddy Bear Project was initiated by Angela Lait, Senior Clinical Skills Tutor at the University of Exeter Medical School’s Truro campus, who has been working on the project with Jo Davies. Jo said: “We were inspired to make the bears after Angela visited Ethiopia a few years ago and saw that many children there had never had a toy before. Angela had made a few bears last year to send out and the children loved them so much that we took on a bigger project this year.

“We’ve been knitting and crocheting teddies frantically to get them all finished to send along with the medical students, resulting in an additional thirty or so teddies to add to the students’ baggage. Angela will also accompany the bears this year to deliver a few in person.”

The teddy bears have their own passports and will make their journey with the medical students on Saturday 7th March. However, the medical students will not be doing the “bear” minimum – working a very busy schedule when they arrive at the St Lalibela Hospital in supporting the new maternity unit and other parts of the hospital whilst engaging with the local community.

The trip is part of the partnership between the University of Exeter Medical School and St Lalibela Hospital, in Northern Ethiopia, following on from the team’s first visit last year. This visit resulted in one of the students, Charlie Emsden, starting ‘The Menstrual Project’ to provide clean underwear and funding to girls in Lalibela to allow them to have their periods with dignity and enable them to continue school.

The Medical School was approached by the Lalibela Trust, a UK charity, to help establish a desperately needed maternity unit at St Lalibela Hospital. Prior to setting up this new collaboration, the Medical School has a longstanding link with the University of Wollega Medical School in West Ethiopia which the team have been visiting for seven years.

This year’s trip is led by Professor Julie Thacker along with Dr Rob Taylor, Angela Lait, Jemima Henstridge and Alison Marchbank. They take along Medicine third year students based at both Truro and Exeter; Syntyche Jonah, Chloe Staniland, Annabel Skinner, Jasmine Jose, Joe Hughes, Alex Spina and Batya Lepar.

You can keep up with the bears’ progress on our social media @ExeterMed on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Date: 6 March 2020

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