Thursday 2 March 2017: When local cabinetmaker Michael Jones decided he wanted an adventure outside of Darwin, it turned out that a hospital ship serving on the other side of the world was the perfect fit for him.
Having heard about Mercy Ships through a nurse friend who had previously volunteered with the international medical organisation, Mr Jones joined the Mercy Ships vessel M/V Africa Mercy in June last year while the ship was docked in Durban, South Africa.
He then sailed with the ship and its volunteer crew to its current field location of Benin in West Africa.
“To be honest, I didn’t have any expectations at all prior to leaving Australia,” Mr Jones said.
“I have never done anything like this before so I had no idea what to expect and I had never been to West Africa so I didn’t know what it would be like.”
“I took one step at a time when it came to the cultures and language differences. It has been a very challenging time but definitely a rewarding experience that I will cherish.”
Born and bred in the suburbs of Darwin alongside his two younger sisters, Mr Jones moved out of his apartment in Fannie Bay, quit his job and sold most of his belongings before heading to Africa.
He is now serving as one of the Africa Mercy’s four volunteer carpenters.
“I consider my job crucial. Being a part of a team of carpenters that help maintain the ship is important.”
The Africa Mercy arrived in Benin in August. During the current 10-month field service docked in the port city of Cotonou, Mercy Ships plans to provide more than 1,700 surgeries to adult and paediatric patients, to treat over 8,000 people at a land-based dental clinic, and to provide training and mentoring to Beninese health care professionals.
“I see God at work through the surgeries on the patients that come aboard the ship. I see God working through the crew on board by showing support to each other.”
“My family, friends and my church community have been happy that I was going overseas to work on a hospital ship. My parents especially were very supportive.”
Like all Mercy Ships volunteers, Mr Jones is responsible for his own expenses while volunteering with Mercy Ships, including his travel costs and room and board while living on the ship.
“My employer understood that I wanted to go overseas and work, but they didn’t understand the whole concept of paying as a volunteer.”
Following the completion of his Mercy Ships adventure at the end of this month, Mr Jones will travel to Scotland for a holiday before returning home in April.
“The best decision was to come serve on the Africa Mercy,” Mr Jones concluded.
“I cannot think of a bad thing. If I do I’ll let you know.”
About Mercy Ships
Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare 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