For ward sister Catherine Collins, the surgical mission in Ethiopia was an opportunity to use skills she gained on the head and neck unit at Guy's and St. Thomas' hospital in London, and a big test of resourcefulness. Here's Catherine's own account of her experiences in Ethiopia:
'It was my first trip to Ethiopia and certainly a memorable one as a nurse in Project Harar's medical team. First was the culture shock, adapting to the healthcare system and customs on the ward. We worked closely with the local nurses and developed quite a skill for improvising with materials – including cutting up water bottles to make cups for the patients and making straws from tubing. Project Harar donated a brand new blood pressure machine to the ward which stirred up a lot of excitement and we had great fun teaching the nurses how to use it!
'The highlight of the trip was definitely giving out handheld mirrors to patients to see their new faces following major surgery. Some had been living with facial deformities and impaired functions for 15 years or more. To see their sheer amazement and joy at the face staring back at them was really moving.
'Going back into the NHS, I will certainly be more resourceful and appreciative of the simple things we take for granted in day-to-day hospital life. I am really grateful to have had such an amazing experience which has changed my perspective and nursing practice forever.'
We raised a fantastic £47,870 during the Big Gi...
Listen to two BBC World Service interviews with Project Harar surgical teams from 2007. First up, an interview with Sissay Befikadu, who was in charge of the cleft programme at Yekatit-12 hospital. And secondly, an interview with Klaas Marck, a Dutch plastic surgeon and chair of the Dutch Noma Foundation.