Madagascar mission for Rachel and Louise

Two local nurses have taken a year out to address the medical crisis in Madagascar, where there is only one nurse per 4,000 people.

Dollingstown woman Rachel Lappin left on Sunday with her friend and nursing colleague Louise Little.

Rachel said: “I’ve known Louise since doing a medical mission with her in Columbia in 2011.

“This time we’re going to Madagascar to work in a hospital in the north of the island.

“It’ll be a far cry from the film but hopefully we’ll be able to see a few lemurs.”

Rachel is a staff nurse in the Royal Intensive Care Unit while Louise, who is from Scarva, works in the same unit in the City Hospital.

Rachel (29) said: “We’ve known each other since the 2011 trip to Columbia. Prior to that I’d been on other trips to Nigeria, Niger, Philippines, India and Ukraine.”

Louise (25), a member of Portadown Elim, said: “I started volunteering when I was 17, but I wasn’t using my nursing until I was qualified four years later. I’ve been to South America, Niger, Burkino Faso, Hong Kong, Poland and Ukraine.”

Of the current trip Rachel, who attends Moira Pentecostal Church, said: “We’re back in August for a few weeks then we’re hoping to go back gain to join Mercy Ship which is also based in Madagascar.

“We’re on a year career break so we’ll be there until at least this time next year.”

Rachel added: “Madagascar has a population of 23 million but only 5 to 6,000 nurses. Most people don’t have any medical care.”

Louise said: “I can’t wait. I really can’t. Though it’s going to be hard saying goodbye to my family.”