Thursday 19 October 2017: Malabar nurse Megan Santifort had dreamed of serving on the Africa Mercy since she was in primary school.
“I was probably in grade 5 or 6 and I saw a presentation or a documentary on the ship and the work that happens in Africa,” Miss Santifort said.
A high school trip to India reaffirmed her interest in health care in developing countries and after finishing her nursing degree Miss Santifort got her dream job at Sydney Children’s Hospital.
With a year of nursing under her belt she volunteered in a rural community in Kenya with a team of Australian nurses.
“I really loved this time as I got to combine my love of paediatric nursing with my passion for providing quality health care in low resource settings.”
Miss Santifort continued her studies and travelled to the UK to complete a post graduate qualification in Tropical Nursing and Medicine at the world-class Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
She was still intent on working for Mercy Ships, the international medical charity to operates the hospital ship Africa Mercy, but wanted to wait until she felt she had the right skills.
Finally, at the beginning of this year Miss Santifort joined the Africa Mercy in Benin for nine weeks. She returned again to join the ship in Cameroon in August.
Miss Santifort’s decision to return to Mercy Ships for a second time was influenced by the inequality she sees in health around the world.
“I don’t believe it’s fair that access to quality health care is so limited in the developed world. If there is a way I can help contribute to changing this for people, then I want to.”
The great working environment and people on board also influenced her decision to return.
“The continual opportunities to learn, being exposed to unique and rare conditions I have never seen in the developed world, and being able to help care and nurture these people to good health.”
Miss Santifort used holiday leave from work and fundraised for her trip to Cameroon by selling aprons made from fabrics she bought in the markets on her last trip to Benin.
All Mercy Ship staff are volunteers and cover their own costs, allowing all donations to go towards providing life-changing surgeries for the world’s poorest people.
The Africa Mercy is the world’s largest independent hospital ship and Miss Santifort believes the work of carried out on board is very important.
“For the local people that receive the chance to have their lives changed through the work of the ship, nothing can compare to this.”
“Without the ship, so many children would grow up stigmatised, disabled by their deformities. Thanks to the ship, these kids can go to school without fear of judgement, or torment”.
Miss Santifort returned home from her latest six week stint in Central Africa at the start of October and flew out again five days later to continue volunteering, this time in Laos, where she is working with Lao Friends Hospital for Children for the next three and a half months.
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