Down, but not out in Kazakhstan
THREE medical students who were driving a retired ambulance from England to Mongolia have landed – literally – in the eastern Europe country after the vehicle conked out in Kazakhstan.
As reported, Sid Parker, of Grainthorpe and two of his friends from Newcastle University, where they all study, set off on their 10,000 mile journey last month filled with optimism and ready for the challenge.
But after covering 6,500 miles, Adrian the ambulance – which already had 200,000 miles on the clock – could take no more and it broke down in Kazakhstan – forcing the boys to abandon it and fly the rest of the way.
Determined to put the painful experience behind them, they have now started work early at the National Trauma and Orthopaedic Research Centre and are still raising money to improve the very basic medical facilities.
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Sid, 22, said: "We broke down in Kazakhstan and after exhausting every way of fixing the problem we had to leave the vehicle behind and fly to Mongolia to start work in the hospitals. Fortunately, we have still raised money to donate.
"It was certainly a low point, although we always knew this would happen, we never expected the vehicle would have to be left. It was probably the closest I have come to tears without anyone dying.
"We had the agonising task of paying through the nose for getting our beloved ambulance towed away. This proved logistically easy but emotionally much more difficult.
"The following hours were a trying experience, with locals inquisitively poking around our possessions, waiting like vultures, knowing we would have to leave behind everything we couldn't carry.
"We could only seek comfort knowing that we had done our utmost to restore the ambulance over the past few days, dragging us through hell and back."
The crew were "gutted" that they couldn't finish the trip but are proud they got over half way and have still made happy memories to look back on in years to come.
For Sid, Croatia was his favourite destination – especially the "electric" vibe as the boys – and three hitchhikers – watched the country draw with Italy in the Euros 2012.
Now they are enjoying every moment they have in Mongolia.
Sid continued: "I am especially looking forward to working in the hospital in the city and rural areas as it will be interesting to see the difference between the two.
"I'm excited about the possibility of going to out- of-reach areas in the ambulances that are donated to them and helping GoHelp provides education and healthcare resources to the local community."
Follow the lads by visiting www.medics2mon golia.tumblr.com or Twitter at @Medics2Mongolia
Donate by visiting www.justgiving.com/medics2mongolia