Monday 11 December 2017: Canterbury physiotherapist Megan Crameri has arrived home after spending almost three months volunteering her time and skills on board the world’s largest independent hospital ship docked on the coast of Central Africa.
It was her first trip to Africa in 2010 that compelled her to return to the continent once she had completed her studies and gained enough work experience.
“In 2016 I started to look into different overseas organisations on the internet that worked in Africa and had opportunities for physiotherapists,” Miss Crameri said.
“That is when I discovered Mercy Ships, loved what the organisation is about, and started the application process.”
Joining the Africa Mercy, the flagship of the international medical charity Mercy Ships, in the nation of Cameroon in late August, Miss Crameri says she expected to be challenged in her work as well as emotionally.
“Working for two and a half years in a Melbourne hospital, I had been rotating every four months through different areas of the hospital such as acute and outpatient orthopaedics, neurological rehabilitation, general medicine and more. This experience helped equip me for serving in Cameroon.”
“In saying that, many of the conditions seen on board and the severity, as well as the surgeries performed, are unique and unlike anywhere else in the world, so there are no Western text book guidelines and protocols to follow.”
“For a population of 23.4 million, there are only 83 trained surgeons and about 24 medical anaesthetists in Cameroon.”
“The need is certainly great and we saw so many patients make it through screening with conditions that would sometimes be present in Australia, however picked up and acted on so much earlier.”
Miss Crameri said there were so many good things about her time serving with Mercy Ships.
“Working as part of the rehab team, we got to work with patients and their caregivers during the initial weeks post-operatively and then for a few months afterwards as they progressed in their recovery and rehab.”
“It was extremely rewarding to build relationships with them and see them walk for the first time with their new and improved legs.”
Living alongside 400-plus fellow volunteers on the ship also provided positives.
“The sense of community on the Africa Mercy is incredible and it’s so fun to work with, be supported by, and learn from inspiring volunteers from all over the world.”
“I consider myself to be a very small part of what is a huge team at Mercy Ships.”
“I believe that the work this organisation is doing is incredible as it is truly reaching the world’s poor and bringing crucial surgery to places where, for various reasons, it is often unsafe, unaffordable and unavailable.”
After finishing up her service with Mercy Ships in mid-November, Miss Crameri travelled to Morocco before heading home to resume work as a physiotherapist at a city hospital.
“I definitely hope to return to Mercy Ships to serve again sometime in the future.”
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.