Barkingside student spearheading fundraising drive to build African eye clinic
PUBLISHED: 12:00 22 February 2015
A student inspired to begin a charity after seeing the experiences of patients in an African hospital, is spearheading a fundraising drive to build a special clinic.
Rathaven Guna, from Barkingside, hopes to provide the city of Arusha, in Tanzania, with its first dedicated eye clinic, to ensure patients with conditions such as glaucoma are given treatment before their risk of becoming visually impaired increases.
The 22-year-old, who is studying medicine at the University of Manchester, created The Little Things 18 months ago to fund healthcare projects in poorer communities.
He said: “I went to Tanzania in summer 2013 to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and afterwards I had a week to spare before returning to the UK.
“My friends were going to Zanzibar, but I wanted to spend the time at a hospital to experience it all first-hand.”
Rathaven volunteered at the St Elizabeth Hospital, the second-largest in Arusha, going on ward rounds and watching operations such as a caesarean and an appendectomy.
It was not until he arrived that he began to “truly appreciate” how fortunate he, and others in the UK, are.
“I was struck by the lack of cleanliness and isolation; patients with TB were sitting next to people with malaria and HIV.
“I was taken aback by the need for proper equipment and facilities and I wanted to do something to help them.”
A doctor told Rathaven the staff wanted to build an eye clinic and The Little Things was soon born.
The charity has already held events including a skydive, with two more due to take place this year.
Volunteers also hope to undertake a trek to the Mount Everest base camp.
The charity has raised more than £6,000 so far towards the eye clinic and, once that project is complete, it will aim to cover the hospital’s debts, which come to approximately £3,300.
Rathaven said: “We can’t wait to build the clinic. I have a dedicated team of volunteers and, without them, The Little Things would not have grown as large as it has. I knew I wanted to help people in my life, it was the reason I decided to study medicine. It is my driving passion; I love it.”
Visit thelittlethings,org.uk and facebook.com/thelittlethingscharity.
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