"It all began in 2008, working at a rural mission hospital in Cameroon with a newborn boy, Abel. He was born with a rare condition, his heart on the outside of his chest. Wondering what to do, I recollected the wise words of Mother Teresa:
Never worry about numbers, help one person at a time and begin with the person nearest you
This inspired me and gave me courage to help arrange Abel’s operation in Italy.
Following his surgery and subsequent requests for help, Willing and Abel was established and has one by one assisted over 150 children to have specialist surgery from fifteen different nations. The logistics and finances, especially for the most complex cases, can sometimes be overwhelming and a big step of faith to take on. But we always see communities come together and God work out the details in ways we never could have planned."
Dr. Abigail Estelle,
Founder of Willing and Abel
Willing and Abel is a UK registered charity. No money is taken by any trustee for his or her involvement. 100% of donations go to the children we seek to help.
Abi is a consultant Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon, residing in New Zealand with her husband; Kenny and son; Owen. Abi spent much of her early training years in and around London (medical and dental school at Guy's Hospital) but 'escaped' whenever time allowed to Africa where she has worked with various NGOs; Mercy Ships, Project Harar and Medical Centres of West Africa (MCWA). It was with MCWA in Cameroon where Abi met Abel and the charity (unknowingly at the time) was born. Abi's love for international health and passion for bridging gaps in healthcare saw her join the Samaritan's Purse UK Medical Disaster Response Team and it was during her time in Haiti that she met Kenny (who was there with the USA branch). This took Abi to Florida for 5 years of Maxillofacial Specialty training prior to relocating to NZ.
- Abi has worked in healthcare in 5 continents (and still rates the NHS the best!)
- Abi is known for her ability to wear flip flops year round
- Cheese beats chocolate everytime!
- Glory glory Tottenham Hotspur
- Loves to be by the sea
Graeme is a retired solicitor having worked in Investment Banking for most of his career. He now spends time with his church, working with dyslexic children and helping two charities including Willing and Abel.
- He has two daughters, Kim who is a GP and Olivia who is an occupational therapist.
- He is a keen cyclist – legs permitting!
- Spends as much time as possible at his house in Le Marche, Italy.
- Enjoys DIY, pruning trees and chainsawing!
- Chocolate is a temptation!
Nick is a retired secondary teacher (35 years teaching English, IT, Geography and RE – the last 19 years as Deputy Head) living by the coast in Walmer, Kent with his wife, Christine (retired infant teacher). He has 2 grown up children and 5 grandchildren, and has recently moved into an extension, called ‘Grandpa’s Bit on the Side’, alongside one of the families. He is a firm believer in the Bible and a member of an Independent Men’s Bible Study Group in Deal, whilst attending Walmer Baptist Church. He has always enjoyed organising things so that other people’s talents and potential can be realised. He particularly loves establishing relationships with young people and maintaining contact with former pupils and his godchildren (both ‘actual’ and adopted).
- He wears shorts throughout the year.
- He loves walking and cycling by the sea, both in the UK and Europe.
- He is very keen on rugby and ardently supports Bath and England.
- He loves opera, ballet, singing and doing Sudokus.
- He loves being a husband, father, grandpa and godfather.
Peter is the Willing and Abel accountant who looks after our finances. Peter is married to June and they are both retired. They have three grown up children and four grandchildren. They currently attend Christ Church Chilwell.
- He is Abi’s dad.
- He still follows Norwich City FC having reluctantly given up his season ticket for Carrow Road upon moving to Nottingham.
- He hopes to be able to use his retirement to fill in some of the gaps in his family tree and spend time in the garden.
- He occasionally enjoys custard.
- He has a twin.
Sorina is a nurse from America and during her training she heard about Mercy Ships. She joined for two years and stayed for nearly three. While the ship was in Togo she met a handsome and funny plastic surgeon from Germany. They will be celebrating their 15 year wedding anniversary this autumn. They have three children - two boys and a girl. Sorina spends her time homeschooling two of her children and helping to manage the chickens, ducks and pigs at their family small holding near Norwich.
- She was only a small child when she first walked on water - frozen lakes are standard for Minnesota winters.
- She is an avid reader.
- She is still shocked some days to be the owner of so many animals.
- The sea is her happy place.
- She enjoys photography and takes pictures of doors most places she goes.
100% of donations go to the children
Medical Board Members
Mr Leo Cheng
LLM, BDS, MBChB, FRCS, FDSRCS, FRCS (Oral MaxFac), FHEA, Consultant Oral, Maxillofacial and Head & Neck Surgeon
Mr Leo Cheng is a consultant oral, maxillofacial and head & neck surgeon at St. Bartholomew’s, the Royal London and Homerton University Hospitals, London. He has special interests in head and neck reconstructive surgery.
Aside from his substantive NHS practice and teaching commitments, Leo Cheng regularly serves as a volunteer Maxillofacial, Head & Neck and Reconstructive Surgeon aboard the “Mercy Ships” in West Africa. He has visited Benin (x2), Togo (x2), Sierra Leone, Liberia (x3), Ghana and Guinea with the Mercy Ships performing life-saving and life-transforming surgery on critical patients.
Dr Abi Estelle
MBBS, MRCS(Eng), BDS, AKC, Oral and Maxillofacial Doctor
Dr Abi Estelle is training in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, particularly focusing on facial reconstruction. She has worked in a variety of medical settings in the developing world which has spurred her on to do her bit in addressing the gap between need and specialist healthcare services in this setting.
Dr Rashnik Ghalay
MBChB, MRCPCH, Consultant Paediatrician
Dr Rashnik Ghalay is a Paediatrician currently working in Kenya. Her areas of interest are emergency and ambulatory care. She is passionate about medical education and providing good quality medical care to those who can least afford it.
Dr Fernando Ghimenton
MD, Chief Specialist, Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Hospitals Complex
Dr Fernando Ghimenton is Italian by birth – South African by election. He is a full-time Paediatric Surgeon at Greys Hospital, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. He has never been in private practice, and has always worked for the poor people in the state structures.
Dr Guido Köhler
Dr Guido Köhler studied medicine in Marburg and Munich (Germany), San Diego and Sydney, and he trained in plastic and hand surgery in Germany. Guido has volunteered his skills with the charity Mercy Ships for over a decade and he is dedicated to making a difference in people’s lives through surgery. His goal is to live out the Christian call of serving the world’s forgotten poor. He currently works as a plastic surgeon in the UK.
Dr Sandra Lako
Dr Sandra Lako is from the Netherlands, and is based in Freetown, Sierra Leone, full-time. She spent her first 4 ½ years in Sierra Leone setting up and managing a pediatric outpatient clinic with an organisation called Mercy Ships. For the past 3½ years she has been working with a UK charity ‘Welbodi Partnership’ based at the only government-run Children’s Hospital in Freetown to support the Ministry of Health and hospital staff in improving health care services. Sandra is passionate about child health in developing countries and being a voice for those who cannot speak up for themselves. She aspires to improve access and quality of care for children in Sierra Leone.
Dr Benita Morrissey
MBChB, MRCPCH, DTM&H, Paediatric Registrar
Dr Benita Morrissey is a paediatric registrar training in North-East London, with interests in global child health, paediatric infectious diseases and medical education. She worked last year in Bo, Sierra Leone and is passionate about justice, children reaching their potential and having access to health services, wherever they are born in the world.
Mr Donald Sammut
LRCP, MRCS, FRCS, FRCS (Plast.), Consultant Hand Surgeon and Anatomist
Mr Donald Sammut is a Consultant Hand Surgeon and Anatomist working in London, Bath and Reading. He specialises in the reconstruction and re-animation of hands. Since 1999, he has been travelling annually to India, and latterly to Nepal, to operate on leprosy paralysed hands and to teach local surgeons. He is also an artist and illustrator.
Dr Tertius Venter
MBChB, FCS (SA), MMed, Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon
Dr Tertius Venter is a consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon. He was in private practice in South Africa for 16 years and did mainly reconstructive surgery with a particular interest in head and neck surgery, congenital hand and feet abnormalities and burn reconstruction. He has been working in Africa with Mercy Ships International since 2000, with the Pan African Academy for Christian Surgeons since 2008 and Operation Smile since 2011. Since May 2012 he is doing full time mission work with these three organisations.
Dr Nick Archer
MA, MB, BChir, FRCP, FRCPCH, DCH, Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist
Dr Nick Archer is a Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist at Oxford Children’s Hospital and Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Oxford. He has written books and book chapters on fetal, neonatal and paediatric cardiology and is author of a number of peer-reviewed journal articles in these areas. He has been involved in clinical care for children with cardiac problems in Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia and China.
Dr Michael Malley
Paediatric Registrar in the North London deanery. Michael is taking a year out to improve his French and then to work in Myanmar for 6 months with Global Links through the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. This is aimed at ameliorating healthcare inequality across the northern region of Myanmar, particularly in paediatric emergency care. He hopes to continue a career in global health following this. Until September 2015 he worked in Paediatric Infectious Diseases and then Paediatric Intensive Care at St Mary’s Hospital in North London.
Michael is particularly interested in acute/emergency paediatric management and has a strong interest in medical education. He is interested in global health and where possible closing the great health inequalities across regions, countries and continents.
Dr Marie Monaghan
Currently a Paediatric trainee in the South London deanery, Marie is taking a year out to pursue her interests in languages and global health, commencing in France and finishing in Myanmar. She studied medicine in London and continued her post-graduate training there. Her particular interest lies in Paediatric Emergency Medicine which she will pursue when she returns as a Paediatric Registrar in September 2016. She is passionate about sharing her understanding and enthusiasm of Paediatric medicine and as such has taken many active roles in medical education across London’s universities.
Marie is excited at the prospect of being involved with Willing and Abel and believes we offer a unique opportunity to share our collective expertise, through the increasingly connected media of the 21st century, for the benefit of others. She says ”To be involved in any way that brings health and an end to suffering for even one child and their family would be an enormously rewarding and humbling experience.”
Dr Michael Harris
BSc, MA, MB, BChir, MRCPCH
Mike was born and raised in South Africa and moved to the UK after completing his schooling. He studied Biochemistry in Birmingham, before moving on to study Medicine in Cambridge. Mike undertook Paediatric training in the West Midlands and Oxford, before training in Paediatric Cardiology in the West and East Midlands and in London at the Evelina Children’s Hospital, where he is currently sub-specialising in Fetal Cardiology. He says ”I care deeply about achieving the best possible care for each and every of my patients and their families, for whom I have a great deal of admiration. I hope that my highly specialised ‘developed world’ knowledge can be used to make a difference to those who need it in the rest of the world.”
Dr Odry Agbessi
Odry is from Benin, West Africa and is their first and only plastic surgeon. From 12 years old, Odry’s vision was to help treat people living with physical disabilities. She studied general medicine in Benin and made her specialization in plastic and reconstructive surgery at Rabat in Morocco. She now works in the national teaching hospital as she believes in the importance of civic engagement and volunteering. She has worked with several international charities through humanitarian missions and founded the VIA-ME association. She is passionate and has a particular interest in disability, burn contracture, treatment of face, hand and feet deformities, tumour and universal health coverage.
Dr Catherine Bradshaw
Catherine is currently a senior paediatric surgery registrar, training in London. Her clinical interests lie in neonatal surgery, paediatric oncology surgery and thoracic surgery. During her time at medical school at Edinburgh University, she undertook a placement in Tanzania. Since then and throughout her surgical training, she has cultivated a strong interest in global surgery. As a paediatric surgery registrar, she spent time working in Alexandria, Egypt, and has just returned from a year working in the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. She is passionate about improving surgical care for all children and is excited to be involved with Willing and Abel to help take steps towards providing specialist surgery for those in need.
Dr Serena Sabato Ceraldi
Italian by birth, Serena has chosen to live in the UK – for the time being! She is a post CCST General Surgeon who currently lives and works in London with her German husband and two daughters.
Serena has worked in Rome, Italy; volunteered a year in Malawi, where she worked with VSO as Consultant Surgeon in the state hospital and as Surgical lecturer in Lilongwe. There she also volunteered to join the outreach team, visiting remote villages once a week and joined UNICEF outreach medical missions. She keeps close connections to different charities in Malawi, colleagues lecturers, students, other local Malawian surgeons and offers regular support via the web. Serena has been involved with the Royal College of surgeons development committee and joined in teaching missions in Malawi.