Tuesday 10 July 2018: Morayfield woman Esther Gollan is back at work after a recent trip to Central Africa to volunteer her time and skills on board the world’s largest civilian hosptial ship for the second time.
Having previously served with Mercy Ships, the international medical charity that operates the Africa Mercy, in Madagascar in 2015, Miss Gollan this time joined the hospital ship’s volunteer crew of over 400 for four weeks in Cameroon.
“When on the ship inevitably someone will say, ‘Wow, Australia. You guys have to come a long way!’ Yep, it’s a decent journey, but worth it in my opinion!”
The youngest of eight children, Miss Gollan has worked at Prince Charles Hospital as an Anaesthetic Technician since graduating from Brisbane TAFE in 2014.
“The skills that I use every day in my work at home are the same skills that I utilised on the ship.”
“The unique thing about the ship is what it is made up of: people from different countries, different walks of life, with different experiences to your own, but with the same goal in mind.”
“The atmosphere on the ship is like nothing I’ve ever worked in before.”
“But it’s not just that feeling of accomplishing something worthwhile that is so special, it’s how those results are achieved. The people that come to the ship to work are all volunteering their time and expertise, they want to be here, they want to bless others.”
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 during 10 months in port.
“I had already served with Mercy Ships previously, so I knew what I was getting myself in for work wise to a certain extent. I did however do a fair amount of Googling ‘Cameroon’ before I left Australia, but that doesn’t really prepare you fully for what you are actually heading into.”
“From what I learned while I was there and what I observed, obviously poverty is a huge difficulty. It seems that there is no such thing as the ‘middle class’. You have the extremely wealthy, and the extremely poor.”
“There is very limited access to proper health care and even those that have access and the money to pay for it, the stories I was told from the local hospitals made me shudder.”
“To see the impact that these surgeries on the Africa Mercy have on the people we are serving, words just cannot express the joy and wonder that can been seen on their faces at what has been done for them. It’s super special.”
“What I love about Mercy ships is that they are so keen to partner with the local hospitals and to get in there and do the hard work of trying to improve their systems.”
“I love that Mercy Ships takes a ‘big picture’ look at the challenging situations that people in Africa face every day; they come alongside the local health care workers in the country that they are serving in and assist them to make a positive change within their own hospitals, equipping them with knowledge, as well as resources, to continue the work that Mercy Ships begins.”
“It is encouraging to know that when the ship leaves a country, the work that we have begun will still continue.”
This month Miss Gollan will begin studying a science degree.
“Semester breaks on the ship are not out of the question though,” she concluded.
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.