THREE Alness mums helping give hope to some of the poorest people in Bulgaria have returned fired up from a hectic trip with a fresh wish list and a determination to keep making a difference.
The hardworking trio, Christina Ross (42), Cathey Reece (41) and Louise Harrison (43), spent a week in Orazari, meeting local officials and doctors, helping at a soup kitchen and sorting out supplies to keep local children clothed and fed over winter.
The Bear Necessities group they formed has already been credited with saving lives with its donations but this time the women returned to the country to focus on their newest and biggest project – healthcare.
Until they launched their own medical clinic more than two months ago, some people in the village had not accessed healthcare for almost 15 years.
Bear Necessities pays the travel costs to allow volunteer GPs and nurses to travel from nearby cities to the small village. Now a surgery runs every two weeks to allow people with ailments to get help. It costs around £3500 a year to run including some vaccinations and medication.
Mrs Reece was humbled to see how the medical staff coped with so little. She said: "They are averaging 50 people a day but they are quite quiet for the last hour so they are even planning on holding women’s health workshops covering hygiene and contraception.
"It was humbling to hear about the patients but also to see how fulfilled the nurses feel to be a part of this project."
The group helped the nurses source painkillers such as paracetamol from pharmacies in Scotland where they are far cheaper. The woman have returned to Alness with even more supplies to source.
They will also be fundraising to improve the building they use as a clinic, which right now "looks like a time capsule from the 1950s".
The trio paid tribute to Tain Royal Academy for all its fundraising support. Pupils from the school raised more than £400 which provided paint and supplies to build a series of colourful benches around the soup kitchen.
"They have been really wonderful, we were blown away by how much they managed to raise," said Mrs Reece.
To get involved, visit Bear Necessities Bulgaria on Facebook.