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10 questions with Mercy Ships senior radiology tech Leonard Ong

It’s time for 10 Questions with Mercy Ships senior radiology tech Leonard Ong! This is how Lenny brings hope and healing to the people of Senegal.

1. How long have you been serving with Mercy Ships? I’ve been serving with Mercy Ships over the past 4 years, returning as a short termer once a year, serving between 4-6 weeks each time. For the Senegal service, I’ll be serving for a period of 10 months.

2. When you’re not serving with Mercy Ships, what do you do back in Australia? I work as a radiographer in general X-ray, CT, and interventional radiology (IR) at one of the tertiary hospitals in Perth.

3. Why do you love serving with Mercy Ships? Being able to utilise my professional skill set to help others who, due to their circumstances, are unable to access healthcare; Working in a faith based community and environment; Putting my faith into action – allowing God’s love and mercy to touch the patient’s through my everyday interactions with them; Meeting and working alongside people from all around the world.

4. What do the people of Senegal mean to you? The people of Senegal really pride themselves on “teranga” which is a local Wolof word that loosely translates to “hospitality”, and this can be seen in their relationships with each other in their families and the community. For me in this field service, I’m really looking forward to sharing in this sense of community; to be a part of and learn about their culture, and to reciprocate this warmth and hospitality to both the patients and those in the community.

5. What’s your favourite thing about waking up each day on board the ship? That each day brings about its own unique experiences and challenges, and new encounters and friendships. Working on a hospital ship brings about multiple unique situations which often requires you to adapt and adjust your normal practice to suit the space limitations on the ship. For example, the ceiling of the ship is lower than in a hospital and the OPG machine (an x-ray machine which takes images of the jaw/teeth) cannot be raised high enough if the patient is tall… It hits the ceiling! We have to get these patients to take a seat for their examinations. The high turnaround of crew also means you’re meeting new people each week.

6. What one thing has surprised you the most about serving with Mercy Ships? The logistics and amount of “behind the scenes” work that goes on in order for the ship to operate as a hospital ship, and for the field service to be a success. The involvement of the IOC, sponsors, donors, and MCB programs are just a few of the various groups of people that are not often on the ship, but contribute significantly to the Mercy Ships organisation and its operation in a field service.

7. Which on board tradition do you love the most? Funky Scrubs Friday. It’s a great and simple way of bringing joy, laughter and lightheartedness to the hospital. It brings a smile to patients and staff alike… the goofier, the better! Laughter is truly the best medicine!

8. What has living on board a ship with 400 other people taught you? To be tolerant and accepting of others. Living with people from many different countries and cultures can be difficult, but it also makes you appreciate and notice the uniqueness of each individual. It’s a great way to learn from each other, to recognise our similarities and differences.

9. Tell us one thing that you wish that you’d known before joining Mercy Ships. That there are too many activities to immerse yourself in and not enough hours in the day! Outside of work hours, there’s always something to do, and plenty of people to hang out with. The time goes by extremely fast on the ship, and before you know it, your departure notice is on the door. Get involved in as much as you can without burning yourself out.

10. What would you tell someone who’s thinking of joining Mercy Ships? Don’t hesitate to apply to serve with Mercy Ships. You definitely gain more than you will ever give. It takes a lot of sacrifice and faith to serve on the ship, but you will not regret it.

Join Lenny on board the Mercy Ship at mercyships.org.au/volunteer