Hats off to Becky

A LOCAL woman has flown out to East Africa with hundreds of knitted hats after an appeal in the Carrick Gazette to help save children in the poverty-stricken country of Ethiopia.

Becky Fleming, chairwoman of the Maybole branch of Save the Children, took off on her adventure last Saturday with five other UK Save the Children volunteers to hand out the knitted hats to help newborn babies survive in East Africa.

An appeal by the Carrick Gazette brought a stunning response and Becky, the only Scottish volunteer to be flying out, travelled with more than 200 baby hats and dozens of mini-teddies to Ethiopia.

Becky appealed for the hats to help newborn babies, who have no special care facilities, survive by being cradled, naked but for the hats, next to their mother’s bodies.

Becky said: “I am absolutely thrilled by the response and just wanted to say thank you to readers for their kindness and hard-work.

“I have had to ask British Airways and Ethiopian Airlines to increase my baggage allowance to take the hats and they’ve doubled it – which is great!”

Becky added that she would be flying through the night to Addis Ababa with the charity’s team, and then taking an arduous ten-hour road trip to the mountains of Amahra region to see water, sanitation, hygiene, health worker and maternity training projects run by the charity. The team then return to the capital to see similar projects in an urban setting.

Becky continued: “I am so excited to be going. We have had two days’ preparation so that we can hit the ground running.”

The preparation included lots of information about the projects, numerous injections and help to acclimatise with the altitude as high as 8,000 feet in parts, which can cause sickness. She has even been listening to Ethiopian music to tune her ear in. The volunteers have also been instructed on blogs and tweeting to keep a digital media record of the trip.

On her return from the eight-day trip, Becky will be preparing to give talks to local groups and interested parties across Scotland to spread the word about the charity’s work, which also includes helping children in Scotland.

The appeal for knitted teddies for Save the Children is still ongoing, however, to raise funds locally.

Anyone interested in knitting one can contact the Maybole branch press officer Liza Donaldson by emailing her at lizadonaldson@btinternet.com.