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Canberra electrician makes a difference in Africa

Wednesday 30 May 2018: Canberra electrician Bobby Gane has found a way to use his skills to help others by volunteering on board the world’s largest independent hosptial ship in Africa.

“A friend saw a Facebook post from Mercy Ships announcing electricians were urgently required. He told me about it, sounded amazing, now I’m here,” Mr Gane said.

Mercy Ships is the international non-profit organisation that operates the hospital ship Africa Mercy, which Mr Gane signed up to serve on board for six months.

“I had a very rare cancer when I was 18 months old. It took six treatments and 18 months until they found a way to cure it.”

“If it wasn’t for the love of my family and the skill and devotion of the medical teams I would not be alive today.”

He said that anything he can now do to help can create a lifetime of difference to those in need.

“I love that Mercy Ships is devoted to people who live in Africa and fixing people with broken bodies.”

“I have no medical skills myself but using my skills to keep the hospital ship functioning so that others can do that work is a tremendous honour.”

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.

“Like most countries in Africa, Cameroon is not a rich country.”

“I don’t know much about the specifics but what I do know is that there is a lot of people with limited or no access to affordable health care.”

“That is until the Africa Mercy showed up.”

An electrician with ActewAGL back home, Mr Gane has been exposed to various electrical challenges before but never those found on a ship.

“I love the electrical and engineering team I serve with and am loving the challenge of learning to be a ship’s electrician with this bunch.”

“I think all services on the ship are invaluable and electrician is no different in that respect.”

Mr Gane has also had the opportunity to mentor a local electrical apprentice named Denise.

“She has a rare opportunity to become a qualified professional in a country that favours men in such roles.”

“She pours her gratitude into her work and her ongoing passion is an example to me of how much our presence means to the people of Cameroon.”

Mr Gane said his friends and family have been supportive of his decision to volunteer in Africa.

“The most unique response was from someone from my rugby team. When I told them I would be away to do volunteering work in Africa, one guy responded with ‘Huh, of course you would’.”

“Many wonderful friends are contributing to my time here.”

“Some gave one off donations to pay for my flight over, most chose to contribute regularly to pay for my crew fees on the ship.”

Returning to Canberra in July, Mr Gane said he’d love to serve with Mercy Ships again.

“I love it here on board the ship; I don’t think I’ve ever done anything so valuable.”

“I’m planning to go back home and work for a year and then come for another six months.”

END

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:

Melissa Mason
National Office Manager
Mercy Ships Australia
(07) 5437 2992
[email protected]

High resolution photos are available upon request, with attribution to Mercy Ships.