Tuesday 15 May 2018: Victor Harbor florist Louise Shepherd is getting used to life back in Australia after spending six weeks living and working on board the world’s largest independent hospital ship docked on the coast of Central Africa.
Miss Shepherd remembers hearing about Mercy Ships, the international non-profit that operates the Africa Mercy, on the radio as a young girl.
Two of her childhood friends later joined the ship and have served on board several times.
In February, Miss Shepherd joined them, serving as a housekeeper to keep the hospital ship’s public areas clean and organised.
“Housekeeping is very important for the health of the ship and is valued highly because of this,” Miss Shepherd said.
“Every department needs to do their part for the ship to run smoothly and successfully.”
“I loved seeing the joy in the patients’ eyes when we would clean the hospital wards every day.”
“I knew then that my seemingly small part of service was contributing to the transformation of their lives.”
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 during its ten-month stay.
“People who know me well, know that helping the poor is something I am passionate about.”
“I felt drawn to the heart of Mercy Ships for many years, but the timing was not right until just now.”
“I was unsure what my experience would be like in a bustling community on the ship and anticipated feeling a little overwhelmed with everything.”
“But I was pleasantly surprised. The people there were delightful and while there is always something going on, you can find various places to unwind.”
While she thoroughly enjoyed her time on board, Miss Shepherd returned home early due to the sudden passing of her grandmother, arriving home in time for the funeral.
“While my time there was cut short, I can’t speak more highly of my experience serving on the ship.”
“My time with Mercy Ships really taught me the meaning of serving others. I felt that my part in the big picture was serving those who serve others.”
“To anyone who is considering serving with Mercy Ships, I would tell them to go for it. You will not regret your decision.”
Miss Shepherd has now returned to her jobs as a sales assistant and florist at Allira Florist and admin assistant and cleaner at her dad’s business, Fleurieu Bus Hire.
“I have no major regrets for serving with Mercy Ships, only that I wasn’t able to go any sooner,” Miss Shepherd concluded.
“I would go again if the opportunity arises.”
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.