Perspective of Isabelle

Isabelle, from Conthey (Valais, Switzerland), paediatric nurse and doctor’s assistant, has joined the Africa Mercy for two years.

Mercy Ships: Isabelle, what exactly are you doing on the ship?

Isabelle : "I work as an admissions nurse. Everyday I go outside to welcome the people who have an appointment card. We ask them questions about their health; I take blood samples and measure their vital signs."

What is it like when you first meet the patients?

"Seeing patients with sometimes huge tumours was quite a challenge for me in the beginning. But then, very quickly, I felt compassion for them and was able to show them a smile. For some people, the last time someone smiled at them was a long time ago because very often people don’t even look at them. Now, step by step, trust can be established. I had the joy to admit a blind child suffering from Glaucoma. With his hands, he wanted to discover everything around him. I gave him a cuddly toy and he was delighted."

Have you met Maomai? (*)

"Yes, I’ve met her. Her tumour was amazingly the same size as her head. She was so small and fragile. But through surgery we gave her a new chance in life. I often spent time with her after her operation because she stayed on board for quite some time. Her mother took very good care of her, especially after she had seen all these doctors and nurses fighting for the life of her baby."

A final word?

"I’m very happy to be able to live out my dream, even though it is not always easy. I learned a lot about myself and would like to continue advancing. I think that since I’ve been here, I’ve received got more than I’ve given! I thought it would be the other way round! The patients are v