Garry Turland heads to Africa for maternity hospital

Helping Africa's women: Barbara May Foundation chairman Michael Sharpe with Jo Crowley and councillor Garry Turland. Photo: Claire Fenwicke
Helping Africa's women: Barbara May Foundation chairman Michael Sharpe with Jo Crowley and councillor Garry Turland. Photo: Claire Fenwicke

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More than 2000 babies were safely delivered in Africa, thanks to the generosity of Highlanders.

They were born at the incomplete Vision Maternity Hospital in Barhirdar, Ethiopia, which will be finished under the watchful eye of councillor Garry Turland.

This will be his third visit to the country, where he has helped build this life-saving hospital through the Barbara May Foundation.

“I became involved when Highlands GP David Browning [founder of the Barbara May Foundation] caught me in the street, and said he needed someone to help with the hospital’s construction,” Mr Turland said.

“I said ‘you beauty, I’ll do it’.”

Mr Turland visited the site in June and October, 2016, and will leave Australia on May 25 to oversee the final touches for the hospital.

“We’ll finish the hospital and theatre, and fit out about $110,000 worth of equipment donated by Sonic Healthcare,” he said.

“But basically the entire hospital was funded by Highlanders, about $600,000.”

He will also take over tools, safety equipment, bolts and screws to leave with workers for future projects.

Mr Turland has seen some amazing sights during his time helping in Ethiopia.

“Before the hospital, you’d see ladies waiting under a tree to give birth, outside this green shed, and they could wait days until they were dilated enough to go in and deliver,” he said.

“Also, we had this imposing security guard with a rifle guarding the supplies, so they wouldn’t get stolen, and I found out he had no bullets, he was scary enough.”

Mr Turland said the doctors were the heroes behind the hospital.

“They really put themselves out there by living in this third world accommodation, because it’s closer to the hospital,” he said.

“They come to my hotel and use the room to be fed and access the internet.”

Bowral’s Jo Crowley is also heading to Africa to climb Mt Kilimanjaro in order to raise funds for the Barbara May Foundation’s third hospital, which will be located in Tanzania.