Thursday 9 November 2017: Box Hill Hospital nurse Kathleen Jones has returned home to Croydon Hills after spending the last two months volunteering her skills on board the world’s largest independent hospital ship.
Having heard about Mercy Ships, the international charity that operates the Africa Mercy, from a colleague who had served on board and enjoyed the experience so much, Ms Jones decided to apply herself and joined the ship docked in the Central African nation of Cameroon in August.
“I’ve been nursing for over 40 years, mainly in paediatrics and surgical nursing, so when I heard about Mercy Ships it fitted perfectly with my scope of practice,” she said.
“I love helping others and I have dreamed of volunteering but life has always been too busy, until now.”
A mother of four and grandmother of eight, Ms Jones saved up her annual leave for two years in order to make the trip and cover her own expenses, including travel, insurance, and immunisations.
“My family, friends, and colleagues have been amazingly generous in their financial support of my adventure. I cannot thank them enough.”
“I had seen a lot of videos and photos of the work that is being done and the types of surgery being performed by Mercy Ships, so there were few surprises there.”
“Some of the nursing practices were a little different because we are working with nurses from many other countries.”
“I have met some amazing nurses from around the world, young and not so young, all with the desire to make a difference.”
“I have never worked in such a friendly environment; everyone is here because they want to be.”
Ms Jones said that one of the best parts of the experience was working with patients and their families and the gratitude they show for the care they receive.
“Working with children with conditions we never see in our society, which can be corrected by surgery, was such an amazing experience.”
“I have seen children with severe deformities and disabilities whose lives will have been changed forever because of their surgery.”
“One 13-year-old boy was so deformed he was unable to achieve anything like a normal life. He had his first leg operated on then six days later the other leg. Six more days later he stood for the first time, in long leg plasters. He was upright for the first time in his life.”
“He hugged his mum and brought tears to the eyes of many people.”
“I expect to have a bit of adjusting to do when I get home,” Ms Jones reflected.
“I live in a country with so many privileges that I take for granted. My time with Mercy Ships has taught me how material things don’t matter as much as good health and access to health services.”
“How lucky we are to be living where we do.”
About Mercy Ships
Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care services, capacity building and sustainable development to those with little access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1.3 billion, treating more than 2.56 million direct beneficiaries. The Africa Mercy is crewed by 400 volunteers from up to 40 nations, an average of 1000 each year. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. With offices in 16 nations, Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. For more information visit www.mercyshps.org.au
For further information, please contact:
National Office Manager, Mercy Ships Australia