Walking the length of Britain for a pharmacy in D.R. Congo

by Linda McFarlane

The LEJoG challenge has had some lovely moments for us.

The plight of these people won my heart

I have been a volunteer with Comfort International since early 2016. The very first job I was given back then was to source and contact companies who would potentially fund/ supply medical equipment or medicines for the newly built maternity and general hospital in Congo, now the Central Hospital Rusayu. Comfort International built the hospital in 2015 in the rural location of Rusayu, in North Kivu Province. The hospital supports and treats many poor and displaced people, including victims of rape and violence. The plight of these people won my heart, and I am still actively searching for funding to this day.

I have always felt a strong connection with the hospital and staff, so to visit as part of a group in the summer of 2019 was just wonderful! Whilst visiting, I was saddened to learn that they were desperately short of essential medicine supplies and were struggling on with minimal amounts, having to buy all supplies from a retail pharmacy in the nearby city of Goma. The staff explained to us that their goal was to establish their own pharmacy. By doing this, they would be able to purchase medicines at the much cheaper wholesale price both to supply the hospital and also sell to the public allowing them to, in time, become self-funding.

The Hospital Pharmacy in 2019

As a pharmacist myself, I was particularly affected by the difficulties the staff and patients were facing on a daily basis and vowed to help raise funds to help them buy their pharmacy.

The LEJoG Team progress

Inspired by my fellow travellers Katherine and Emma, in March 2021 I joined them on a virtual expedition to walk the entire 1744km (1084miles) from Land’s End to John O’Groats to support this fantastic cause. I was soon followed by Abi, another member of our 2019 group. We are all doing local walks and runs and tracking our miles. I am definitely not a runner, but am getting there, albeit at a slower pace!

Emma, Abi, Katherine and Linda enjoying the challenge in various places around Scotland

Setting a goal to walk between 5 and 12km each day has been a great way to keep motivated to exercise, particularly during lockdown, and I’ve found that my enthusiasm for exercise and the outdoors has increased dramatically. I’ve spent valuable time walking with friends and family, and my dogs are happier too! Obviously with such a long-term challenge there are days when I just want a day off, so I’ve allowed myself that on occasion, but I’ve set my average pace at just over 8km per day and have so far managed to maintain that! 

Emma and Katherine are storming ahead, with the endpoint almost in sight. Emma is currently just past Inverness, closely followed by Katherine who is heading up the side of Loch Ness – they both hope to reach John O’Groats mid-August. I recently crossed the Scotland/England border, aiming to finish at the end of September, and Abi is approaching Sheffield.

I’ve been stuck in bogs…

The challenge has had some lovely moments for me – walking among the mountains and along beaches in my beloved Sutherland, through forests, around lochs and along canals. I’ve been stuck in bogs, completely lost, attacked by midges, bruised and blistered, but if I struggle at all I always try to think of the beautiful Congolese people and draw on their strength and determination to keep me motivated.

Nearly there, your help could make the difference.

The estimate for setting up the new pharmacy is only £6,300. As I write this, our total raised is £4327. We would dearly love to reach our target – only £1937 to go!

We hope that you will consider helping us towards this goal, which will help so many poor and vulnerable people in DRC. (To support the LEJoG Team and help with the cost of setting up this life-saving new pharmacy click HERE )

In memory of Flo McEwan

Flo in D.R.Congo

We are doing this in memory of Flo McEwan, a committed supporter of the charity, fellow traveller to DR Congo in 2019, and an incredibly positive and inspirational woman we are proud to call our friend. Flo sadly passed away last year, but we know she would be encouraging us all the way.

Click HERE  to support the LEJoG Team

a little can change a life