A MEDICAL mercy team organised by a former Inverclyde Royal nurse is flying to Ethiopia to give the gift of sight to people.

Ergate Ayana, who runs the ‘Fighting Blindness in Ethiopia’ (FBIE) charity, will team up with sister charity Fiona’s Eye Fund for a life changing mission in Dilla, in the south of the country.

The 78-year-old, who was born in Ethiopia before coming to Greenock to work at IRH, is part of a team of doctors and nurses who will successfully restore the gift of sight to about 300 people in five days.

Speaking to the Tele ahead of the big trip on February 22, Ergate said: "We have been doing this since 2006 now.

"We go over there and treat cataracts in people who have gone blind.

"This time we are expecting about 300 people in five days.

"People come in blind and they go home being able to see - it's really rewarding.

"There's no primary healthcare in the area so some people have been blind for two or three years, it's not like here where people get an eye operation."

Ergate said that as well as looking after the patients he will also act as a translator.

He said: "They rely on me as a translator.

"In Ethiopia there are over 80 different languages, I speak two of the main ones - Amharic and Oromo.

"I also look after the patients and I order all the supplies from here which we will need in Ethiopia."

Ergate says the trip would simply not be possible without the support they receive from the local community and businesses.

He added: "The trip costs £20,000 so we do a lot of fundraising.

"People are so generous with their donations.

"We would like to thank everyone for their contributions."

Anyone who would like to support the trip can do so online at https://www.justgiving.com/fionaseyefund