THEY have been washing cars, baking cakes and parachuting from the sky.

But now a team of nursing students are almost ready to travel more than 4,500 miles across the world to care for people in West Africa.

Twenty-five students and staff from the University of Southampton have had to raise more than £55,000 for AMECA (Alex’s Medical and Educational Clinic in Africa) which will help improve healthcare for people living in some of the poorest countries in the world.

They will then jet off to Ghana in two groups in August and September where they will spend 18 days helping the charity build a children’s ward and repair a rundown medical centre while providing care for people living nearby.

During their trip they will learn about and treat illnesses and diseases rare in the West, while learning construction skills, including brickwork, plastering, woodwork and painting.

One of the students on the trip is Ailsa Sheldrake-Field, 21, from Locks Heath, who said: “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and the first time the University of Southampton has done anything like this.

“Hopefully the work we do will be really positive over there and help as many people as possible. It’s a life-changing opportunity that will hopefully make me a better nurse and a better person.

“I’m most looking forward to experiencing a different culture and lifestyle.”

AMECA founder Ruth Markus said: “Renovating this health dispensary will be a project which we have wanted to realise for a long while.

“We strongly believe that by providing better facilities, the dispensary will attract well-qualified staff, provide opportunity for further training and implement community health education at a grass roots level.”

Since last autumn the students have been working hard to raise £2,200 each, which will help fund this project and the charity’s ongoing work, building a health clinic in the central African state of Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world.

AMECA will also be awarding bursaries to six University of Southampton students which will enable them to spend more time working in and helping the people of Africa. It is only the second university to be awarded AMECA bursaries.

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