Dr Jon Rees, of Brockway Medical Centre in Nailsea, travelled to Zanzibar in June to take part in a bike ride around the tropical island, off the coast of Tanzania, East Africa.
The 38-year-old GP was among a 40-strong group on the sponsored cycle ride for the Makunduchi Project which in total raised a staggering £80,000.
The aim of the trip was to raise funds for a maternity services in a rural area which currently has almost no medical care for mothers during delivery.
Maternal mortality rates are currently 170 times higher than in the UK, with one in 180 mothers dying in childbirth.
Jon said: “The trip was a great success – the local bikes were slightly crude and you were very lucky to have working brakes or gears, the roads were rough, and the temperature high.
“Cycling between 60 – 80kms per day proved a great challenge, but was highly enjoyable also – it was the first time Zanzibar had seen a bike trip of this scale, so the reception in the villages was noisy to say the least.”
The fundraising will allow the Makunduchi hospital to begin maternity services later this year and hopefully lead to significant reductions in maternal and infant mortality, added Jon.
He said: “I had never done anything like this before but I enjoyed the challenge.”
The ride took etween seven-10 days along a route close to the equator.
Jon who is married to Seema, a GP in Portishead, said: “Although there is a sense of paradise on the Indian Ocean Spice Island with its white sandy beaches and coral reef lagoon the average life expectancy is 47 years
“One in 180 women die during delivery of their child and one in six children die under the age of seven with the majority dying when aged less than two years.”
Jon took his one-year-old son Krishan out a lot of the back of his bike is helping with his training.
The doctor, who also has seven-year-old twins Kamran and Jaya, also cycled back and forth from his Bristol home as part of his training.
He said: “My training regime was to cycle into work from Bristol and back is approximately a 21 mile round trip and going out on call on my bike whenever possible.”
Jon is a trustee of the charity with a slogan ‘Money raised is not just a drop in the ocean’.
He said: “We have complete control over the fund, so there can be no corruption.
“People can see exactly where their money is going and monitor progress. People can and will make a difference.
“I am involved with this charity having worked in Zanzibar's main hospital approximately seven years ago as a surgical trainee.
"I spent some time there learning some operative procedures that we rarely carry out in this country.
“I worked at Mnazi Moja Hospital in Stonetown, the capital of the island - the hospital is completely unable to cope with the huge numbers of patients coming in from rural areas, and a terrible lack of resources.
“This project aims to help manage the less sick patients in the community and allow the main hospital to concentrate on more major illness.
“I became involved in a twinning project between this hospital and Musgrove Park where I was working at the time.”
It was a consultant at the Taunton hospital who is the founder of the charity.
Backwell and Nailsea Medical Group practice manager Maggie Robins collected toys for Jon to take out and Backwell & Nailsea Rotary Club is supporting the project by raising funds for an anaesthetic machine for the maternity unit at the hospital.
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