SUPPORTERS in Garstang have helped to fund an ambitious plan to deliver an ex-NHS ambulance to a voluntary service working amid the fighting in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
The Fiat Ducato vehicle set sail from Southampton in early July and will dock this month in Mogadishu to help victims of Somalia’s 20-year insurgency.
The Garstang fundraisers - centred on Sandbriggs Court - have held various events to raise funds for the ambulance, which is not yet fully funded and sailed partly on the basis of loans.
On Saturday they held a silent auction of donated sports goods in Booths supermarket in Garstang. British Somali athlete Mo Farah (who won two European gold medals last year and broke the European 10,000 metres record in June) sent three signed running vests and one of his sponsors, Nike, sent shirts, trainers, golf balls and other items.
Auction of these items raised £166 and shoppers donated a further £125 to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for East Africa to combat the famine. Somalia, now racked by drought as well as fighting, has no public ambulances.
At the end of 2008 two friends set up a non-profit service funded mainly by a local mobile phone company.
Incredibly, Lifeline Africa has so far delivered more than 14,700 wounded people to hospital, taken 4,250 women in labour and children with non-fighting conditions to hospitals and midwiveries and taken 5,153 dead to mortuaries and cemeteries.
Local appeal organiser Clive Robinson said: “What seemed like a dream six months ago has come about. With the help of specialist charity Ambulances for Africa, we have mobilised enough support to send this vehicle to one of the most needy cities on earth.
“People in Somalia are between the devil and the deep sea; many have to choose between starvation in their home areas, walking to the border or moving to a city beset by shelling.’’
Anyone who would like to contribute a donation can contact Clive on 01995 606208.