Thursday 8 February 2018: Local nurse Katrina Sharp has returned home to Salisbury after spending almost two months volunteering on board the world’s largest independent hospital ship docked in West Africa.
An acting clinical nurse on the acute surgical ward at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Miss Sharp first heard of Mercy Ships, the charity that operates the Africa Mercy, from a colleague who had previously served on board several times.
“I have an immense desire to see the world and immerse myself in cultural experiences,” Miss Sharp said of her decision to travel to Africa to offer her skills.
She said that as her nursing experience has grown, so has her desire to provide high quality, patient-centred care to those in need.
“I saw Mercy Ships as the perfect opportunity to combine both of these passions.”
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 onboard our hospital ship, to treat over 8,000 at a land-based dental clinic as well as providing healthcare training to local medical professionals.
“A few of our patients had attempted to receive health care through the local system and had either had unsuccessful surgeries or were told their care was purely too difficult,” Miss Sharp recalled.
“For many of these patients, the care they receive on the Mercy Ship is their only hope and that is really special and sad all at the same time.”
Miss Sharp said her friends, family and co-workers were all extremely supportive of her.
“I have self-funded a lot of my trip with a few donations from close family and friends. My grandma has been my number one financial donator.”
“The best thing about serving was the love, happiness and laughter we get from our patients. There was so much joy on the wards that we often visited on our days off.”
“I often found myself in fits of laughter with my patients, who often spoke a language other than my own.”
“I have learnt so much from them and I hope to incorporate and remember the lessons they have taught me into my daily life back home.”
Miss Sharp now hopes to return to Mercy Ships during its next field service in Guinea, West Africa.
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.