Ripon nurse providing on the ground medical care to help Rohingya refugees

Gilly Spence providing on the ground support.
Gilly Spence providing on the ground support.

A nurse from Ripon is in Bangladesh providing on the ground medical care to Rohingya people living in refugee camps.

More than 600,000 children, women and men have fled from persecution and the destruction of their homes in the northern Rakhine province of Myanmar, and Gilly Spence, 43, is working as part of a team from the charity Humanitas to help refugees.

The Humanitas medical team.

The Humanitas medical team.

Humanitas fundraiser Joanne Wearne said the difference that the team has made already is “massive”.

Giving an update directly from the camps, Gilly, who works in Harrogate District Hospital's emergency department, said: “So far on this trip we have been setting up a clinic in someone’s home made of bamboo and tarpaulin, after walking long distances to reach those in need deep into the camp.

“We’ve seen dozens of sick and malnourished children and women and a few men, predominantly women and children. A lot of the male family have been killed in Myanmar.”

“The most emotional moment for me was when the translator was speaking to a woman in our clinic. She was two years older than me, 45, but looked 60. She had been in the camp for two months after walking for seven days over the rice fields with her son. Her other three sons and husband were killed in Myanmar. She looked utterly broken.”

Gilly went to Lesvos in December 2015 after reading about the refugee crisis, and felt compelled to do as much as she could. This led to multiple trips helping refugees from across the world.

She said: "I think it’s important to show the people here they haven’t been forgotten, that people do care and they are prepared to be there to help them however they can.”

The United Nations said it is the “world’s fastest growing refugee crisis”, and Humanitas has launched an urgent appeal to raise funds.

In a blog reflecting on her experiences so far, Gilly said: “These people have fled from atrocities I have never known and hope that I never ever will.

“Despite fleeing from these horrors the Rohingya people appear to be resilient, determined and above all a community.”