Perspective of Marina
Marina, a nurse from Mönchaltorf (ZH), volunteered for almost 3 months on board the Africa Mercy.
We are a mixed group when we enter the restaurant in Lomé this evening. It is Mercy Ships which has brought us all together; we share a cabin on board the Africa Mercy. “Thank you Lord for being with us tonight,” prays my bunkmate Liz (USA, Photographer) “and thank you for our friendship, for it isn’t taken for granted when six women share one bathroom!” By candlelight, starry sky and pizza we reminisce. To the question of what we’re looking forward to at home we all give similar answers: family, friends, a hot bubble bath, fast Internet connections… These are all the things we miss here.
I’m still chewing on my Calzone when the next question makes the round. What was the toughest during our stay? For Robyn (New Zealand, Nurse) it wasn’t easy to get used to the life on a ship. Even a big ship like ours can get so small with 400 people from almost 30 different nations. And Linda (USA, Lab Tech) sometimes struggled with facing the harsh realities of many of the West African patients.
When we finally eat our desserts we come to the last question. What was the best moment? Caitlin (USA, Hospitality Hostess) observed a life changing surgery today. For me it was the contact with the patients. They are so grateful and it is awesome to see how their lives are changed!
What I enjoy the most is spending time with the kids. The days are sometimes so busy and I just run around between the ship and the admissions tent on the dock. And then, suddenly, a child stands there and just smiles at me. Or a small boy jumps into my arms when I come down the corridor. Or a baby snuggles on my shoulder while the mother gets examined by the doctor. These are the moments which are worth all the hard work.
Finally it is time for us to return to the ship. We stop six “Zemidjans” (taxis-motorcycles) that drive us back to the ship where there are 2-min showers and not enough chocolate. To the ship, that brings hope and healing. To the ship that changes the lives of so many patients... and that changed all of our lives!