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Three Oxford medical students – Alex Blakes (St Edmund Hall) and Emily McFiggans and Jennifer Southern (both at Green Templeton College) – will start the adventure of a lifetime this Sunday, driving an ambulance from Oxford to Mongolia for charity.
The 5000-mile journey, which is scheduled to take three weeks, is part of the Mongolia Charity Rally, an annual event organised by the charity Go Help. At the finish line the ambulance will be donated to the Mongolian Health Services, who face a serious shortfall of emergency vehicles.
Emily, Jennifer and Alex will then remain in Mongolia for two months, working in a local hospital and giving English lessons to Mongolian doctors in collaboration with a student-run organisation, Medics2Mongolia.
The trio have raised £2000 in donations for Go Help, and a further £8000 for the costs of the trip through travel grants and adventure bursaries – all this while working towards their final exams, which they passed in January. Alex recently organised a very successful Charity Formal at St Edmund Hall which boosted their total by over £1400, and he has also received support from the College’s Graham Hamilton Travel Award and a St Edmund Hall Elective Bursary.
“We’ve been planning the project for more than a year” said Jennifer, who came up with the idea. “It’s a huge relief to have put the exams behind us, and to have qualified. Between revision and this project, we’ve had little time for anything else – but it’s been worth it. Now we can focus on getting ourselves and the ambulance to Mongolia in one piece!”
The ambulance was donated to the project by Oxfordshire’s local ambulance trust, South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS). Phil Pimlott, Assistant Director of Operational Quality & Compliance at SCAS said, “We renew our vehicles every eight years or so. This ambulance has reached retirement age, but it’s in great working order. It’s nice to know that it will be put to good use by the charity.”
“We’re incredibly grateful for the support that we’ve received from SCAS and elsewhere,” said Emily. “For example, the costs of our Heavy Goods Vehicle driving tests were sponsored by a local driving school, Trailer Training UK. We’re really humbled by their generosity.”
The students will take the northern route to Mongolia, through Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Russia. You can follow their progress online at mongoliaambulanceproject.wordpress.com.
If you would like to help with the costs of the journey (such as fuel and driving permits) please visit www.gofundme.com/going-short.
To make a charitable donation directly to Go Help, please visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/medics-khan-drive.