Emergency appeal to fund medical treatment

A LOCAL businesswoman has this week launched an emergency appeal to help provide medical treatment for a Gambian footballer seriously injured in a car accident.

Jackie Learmonth is a regular fund-raiser for and supporter of the Kunta Kinteh nursery school in Fanji Kunda, in western Gambia, but also sponsors the football team attached to the school.

She made one of her regular visits to the African country recently, returning home last week. On Friday she received the shocking news that two of the team’s players had been killed in the car crash which also left 32-year-old Bubacar Camara unconscious and with multiple broken bones.

Healthcare in Gambia is not free and his family is unable to pay for treatment. The true extent of his injuries was only discovered after Mrs Learmonth herself paid for him to be moved to a private hospital where he received an MRI scan.

The three men worked in Senegal and had been returning from Dakar, where they had renewed their visas to allow them to continue working in the country.

She said: “He has swelling on the brain, although the scan didn’t show any other obvious internal injuries, so he needs to be operated on this week to relieve it. I think he will be okay and the doctors seem pleased with him at the moment, but he’s still unconscious and has been since Friday.

“Basically, his family just doesn’t have the money for treatment and I doubt I can pay for it myself although I’ve already sent money over to have him moved.

“I don’t know the cost yet, but I’m going on it being around £3,000 but I don’t know exactly.

“Basically, I’m hoping people come forward with either fund-raising ideas or donations to help, but time is pressing.”

Mrs Learmonth became involved with the school, which deals mainly with orphans, around three years ago when she began fund-raising to help build the new facility.

She raised around £16,000 over two years and has maintained a close connection with the nursery and its authorities ever since. At the same time she has supported the team which is linked to the school and is made up of youngsters and carers.

She said: “I’m probably closest to Bubacar and he and his brother look after one of the kids I sponsor. I’ve been taking them out strips and equipment and they really love their football.

“People complain about the NHS here but they haven’t a clue. If he was here he’d be treated in a nanosecond, but because his family is poor he has to suffer and it’s breaking my heart. I mean, what price a life? If I have to go round people, cap in hand, and beg then that’s what I’ll do.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation or raise funds towards Bubacar’s treatment can contact Mrs Learmonth on 07972 155467, The Yard nightclub on 674246, Steeplejacks Bar on 672291 or The Woodville Inn, Kirriemuir, on 01575 573917.