Tuesday 27 March 2018: Sarah Bagshaw is on her way home to Moree after spending two months in Central Africa volunteering on board the world’s largest civilian hospital ship.
A registered nurse and midwife at Moree Hospital, Miss Bagshaw decided it was time to give something back after ten years of nursing in New South Wales and Queensland.
“I am genuinely graetful to have a job that allows me to travel, work, and give back to those less fortunate,” Miss Bagshaw said.
“As an Australian, I think we forget how lucky we are to have been born into such an amazing country.”
She says that Africa had always intrigued her and, after an extensive search for a volunteer opportunity that would suit her skills, Mercy Ships was the perfect fit.
“Seeing a Third World country from this perspective truly makes me grateful for the opportunities that I may have assumed were my right.”
Miss Bagshaw is serving as a ward nurse on board, caring for patients who have received free surgery to correct conditions like burn contractures and childbirth injuries.
The Africa Mercy docked 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.
“Working in rural Queensland and New South Wales has definitely made the transition to Mercy Ships easier.”
“Mercy Ships has plenty of medical supplies, but sometimes due to customs delivery things can run a little low. On the first day it was said ‘It’s not wrong, just different – it’s the Africa Mercy way’.”
“I did have a fear that I would be out of my depth with the nursing, as I had primarily been a midwife for the past six years, but it turns out it is like riding a bike.”
“I know that here I am making a difference to patients’ lives and they are grateful for all that we provide.”
“These people don’t have a sense of entitlement, which makes everything you do for them more special.”
“The little children clambering up onto your lap for a hug definitely shall remain in my memory.”
“I also got to donate blood to a patient that required it during surgery.”
“It amazing to know that it is now helping someone heal!”
While living with 400 other volunteers on board the hospital ship can make it difficult to find a moment of quiet, Miss Bagshaw said it also creates a unique sense of community.
“Everyone here is welcoming, inclusive, and genuinely nice people who are here for the right reasons.”
She said everyone at home had been supportive of her decision to travel to Cameroon to volunteer.
“My family knew it was something I wished to do for quite some time, so it wasn’t a surprise.”
“My mother has been a great asset, emailing me important mail or making appointments for when I return to Australia, and my friends from home have been fantastic at communicating.”
“I get emails and messages frequently, so it makes it easier being away for an extended period.”
Miss Bagshaw will arrives home to Moree later this week.
“My childhood best friend is getting married after I arrive back, so I’ll be rushing around making sure the bridesmaid dress still fits!”
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.