Thursday 21 June 2018: Thursday 21 June 2018: Jessica Davis has returned home to Paddington and her job as a registered nurse on the general surgical ward at Mater Private Hospital Brisbane after spending two months volunteering her skills in Africa on board the world’s largest indepedent hospital ship.
“I first heard of Mercy Ships when my friend volunteered in Madagascar for two weeks as a theatre nurse,” Miss Davis said.
Then, after seeing a television documentary about the international medical charity that operates the Africa Mercy the following year, she decided to apply to volunteer herself.
“When I was a kid, I remember saying to people who would ask what I wanted to do when I grew up, ‘I want to be a nurse in Africa’. I don’t even remember why I would say that, and I don’t know where it had come from.”
“In early 2017 I woke up one morning after a dream about being on safari in Africa and decided it was time to research what organisations there were which matched what I was wanting to do.”
“Being a nurse and feeling as though I was in a rut where I wasn’t truly enjoying my work at home, I felt I needed to do something for someone where earning money wasn’t the purpose.”
Miss Davis joined the crew of more than 400 volunteers on board the hospital ship Africa Mercy in late March while the ship was docked in the Central African nation of Cameroon.
“I didn’t really know what to expect as I was preparing to go and work on the ship. I knew the nursing would be different, I just didn’t know how it would be different.”
“The hardest thing I think was to prepare my heart for what I was going to witness. As I had not ever experienced anything like this before, I wasn’t sure how I was going to react in certain situations, how I was going to feel, or how I was going to cope. All I can say is God made it easy.”
The Africa Mercy arrived in the port city of Douala, Cameroon, in August 2017 with plans to provide almost 4,000 thousand life-changing surgeries on board, to treat over 8,000 at a land-based dental clinic as well as providing health care training to local medical professionals during 10 months in port.
“I feel like I could easily make living on the ship a reality. I loved every aspect of my time spent in Cameroon. Before my first fortnight was up, I had already made the decision to go back and serve again.”
Miss Davis said the work of Mercy Ships is invaluable to the patients who receive free treatment.
“It is life changing for those who come as patients, and it is life changing for those who come to serve on board the ship.”
“Due to the nature of many of the illnesses seen on board, many of the patients have been outcast and secluded from their families and communities. They haven’t been able to work, and they haven’t been able to live the life they dreamed of living.”
“They come to the ship with sad and empty faces, and after only a day or so their eyes are bright, their smiles wide, and they have felt a love that they have missed out on for so long.”
“I have had the chance to sit and think about where I am and where I want to be. Coming to the ship and seeing what I have has helped me to see a bigger picture.”
She now has plans to return to Mercy Ships in the future as a long-term volunteer.
“When, I don’t know, but I look forward to it.”
About Mercy Ships
Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care services, capacity building and sustainable development aid to those without access in the developing world. Founded in 1978, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1.3 billion, with more than 2.56 million direct beneficiaries. Each year, more than 1,200 volunteers from over 40 nations serve with Mercy Ships. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, health care trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. Mercy Ships Australia, one of 16 international support offices, is based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. For more information, visit www.mercyships.org.au
For further information, please contact:
National Office Manager
Mercy Ships Australia
(07) 5437 2992
High resolution photos are available upon request, with attribution to Mercy Ships.