A NURSE from Pembrokeshire is embarking on a charity mission to Ethiopia in the New Year to help patients with life-altering deformities in the African country.

Catherine Collins, 32, from Lower Freystrop, will be visiting Ethiopia in February 2018 with Project Harar, a charity which gives medical access to help people living with facial deformities.

Catherine will be spending two months in the country, working for the charity’s annual complex mission with a team of doctors, nurses, surgeons and other medical practitioners.

The team bases itself in a hospital in Addis Ababa, and patients from across rural areas of Ethiopia visit for operations on disfigurement caused by burns, tumours, animal attacks, or cleft palates.

“Quite often these people are segregated in the community because of the way they look,” said Catherine.

She explained that the charity's full-time workers in Ethiopia spend their time searching rural communities for people who may have been hidden away because of their faces, and organise their operations.

Project Harar sees between 50 and 60 patients during each mission, as well as many more throughout the year and demand for medical attention is always high.

Their two month mission begins with two weeks of preparing patients for surgery, making sure they are fed a good diet and are ready to be operated on.

Then the team of surgeons will spend two weeks operating, before giving patient four weeks to recover from their surgery in the care of the 14-strong nursing team.

Catherine, who grew up in Pembrokeshire and went to Tasker Milward School, first heard about the charity from a colleague while working in London as a nurse specialising in facial surgery.

She has been to Ethiopia with Project Harar’s 2015 and 2016 missions, but has never committed to the full two months until now.

“I had always done it previously as part of annual leave. Now I have put my job on hold. The charity has never had someone there for the whole time before,” she said.

It costs the charity nearly £70,000 to carry out their annual mission, and each member of the team who takes part must raise £1,000 before going.

Catherine has been hosting bake sales and other events at Withybush Hospital to fundraise, as well as selling apples from her parent’s garden at a stall outside their house.

To help Catherine fundraise for the mission visit her justgiving.com/fundraising/catherine-collins2018

For more information about Project Harar’s work in Ethiopia, visit projectharar.org