Student's £6,000 vaccine project

PUBLISHED: 13:16 22 June 2006 | UPDATED: 14:44 12 May 2010

Caroline Chandler pictured in Africa

Caroline Chandler pictured in Africa

ACA 19-YEAR-old woman is aiming to raise £6,000 for a vaccination project after spending her gap year in one of the poorest countries in Africa. Caroline Chandler, 19, of Ashwell, is hoping to raise the cash which will help build a vaccination park in sou

ACA 19-YEAR-old woman is aiming to raise £6,000 for a vaccination project after spending her gap year in one of the poorest countries in Africa.

Caroline Chandler, 19, of Ashwell, is hoping to raise the cash which will help build a vaccination park in southern Mauritania, where she worked for a veterinary charity run by Project Trust.

Caroline said: "After I finished school I wanted to see the world and go travelling. But at the same time I wanted to do something worthwhile.

"I decided to do a voluntary placement in Mauritania, through the Project Trust. While I was out there I became involved in a number of projects, but the one that affected me most was the locals reliance on their cattle and how important it is to their survival."

Caroline worked alongside the local community, distributing nutritional supplements and medical treatment and teaching schoolchildren. But it was while working with vets and herders that she saw just how important the country's livestock is to the population.

"There is a desperate need for vaccination parks, especially for the nomadic tribes, who rely solely on their cattle. Cattle welfare is crucial and extremely essential in their fight against poverty.

"Cattle to them is a matter of life and death and this really shocked me. Some 70 per cent of the population live below the poverty line and rely on their animals to get by. They have to use milk to pay for things because they have no money," she said.

"We can do a lot to help and one of the best things that we can do is to help protect their livestock. An effective health service will not only save the cattle but also the people themselves, because without their animals they wouldn't be able to survive."

The charity has already built one vaccination hut, but Caroline, who is studying French and German language at Cambridge University wants to add another.

She said: "I became close to the communities and met some incredible people. In the end it was difficult to come back, it had become like a home.

"I wanted to give something back to them and raising money for a new vaccination hut is one of the most important things that I could think of doing."

At the moment, because of the few vaccination huts, it can take a tribe a whole day to vaccinate a herd of 40. The vaccination hut that Caroline is hoping to help build will vaccinate up to 200 in just one hour.

Each hut costs £6,000. Caroline has already raised £2,000 towards the project and is now organising a number of fund-raising events.

She said: "I am hoping to raise the rest of the money by the end of the year and we have set a target for June 2007 for the completion of the hut.

"I would love to go back to Mauritania and see it up and running and helping the tribes. However, I am a student and it costs a lot of money to get there - maybe I'll do some saving of my own."

Caroline helped organise the recent Ashwell Revels on the Rec fun day which raised a further £2,000 towards the project.

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