In just three and a half weeks I will be on my way to The Gambia with my suitcase full of second hand shoes.
Also crammed into my suitcase will be teddy bears, canvas bags, gardening tools, pens, chalks, plasters and paint brushes.
It’s not the usual kind of luggage I’d be taking on a trip abroad, but then this is not a typical trip.
Luckily I’m used to trying to travel light, having backpacked across Northern India at the end of last year, but with all the aid I am taking on this trip I will be lucky to squeeze in a pair of flip flops!
Aside from packing there are other last minute things to think about too. I’ve already got my malaria tablets and next week I’ll be having my yellow fever jab (ouch!).
Meanwhile donations of aid are still coming in, from staff at benenden hospital where I work, from pupils at Folkestone School for Girls where a fund-raising evening was held just before Christmas and from members of the Rising Mercury Society, who are friends of the hospital. Donations which have arrived today have included felt tips, bars of soap, sanitary towels, bubbles and colouring books.
Now I have to get these to the charity behind the trip, BACE, who will pack them into boxes which the airline has kindly agreed can go into the hold, at no additional cost.
Over the last few weeks a lot of the aid has been tucked under my desk at work, so it’s great to finally clear it away and to know that it will soon be delivered to the people it’s intended for.