Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

{Toowoomba Nurses Volunteer Skills to Help the Sick in Africa} {Nurses Volunteer to Help Sick in Africa}

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

{Toowoomba Nurses Volunteer Skills to Help the Sick in Africa} {Nurses Volunteer to Help Sick in Africa}

Article excerpt

Byline: Mercy Ships Australia media officer Amos Bennett

TOOWOOMBA nurses Andrea Bailey and Deb Louden reckon there's a lot of suffering in the world and they want to help alleviate some of it.

Both nurses are serving or have just returned from serving onboard the world's largest non-government hospital ship in Benin, West Africa, one of the world's poorest nations.

Andrea has returned from six weeks service as a volunteer working in intensive care, the ward and post-anaesthetic care unit.

Deb has been onboard since early April working as a ward nurse and is not due home until November.

As with all Mercy Ships volunteers, the two nurses along with more than 400 volunteers onboard at any one time paid their own way to go and also paid crew fees to help offset running costs of the ship.

Andrea heard about Mercy Ships from the family of friends who had served on them and Deb first read of the work in a brochure she picked up from a Mercy Ship stand at the Toowoomba Easterfest (formerly the Australian Gospel Music Festival).

"That was a number of years ago," she says.

"I had to complete my nursing degree first and gain two years of work experience before I was accepted," Deb said.

"I grew up loving everything medical, after spending a month in hospital as a patient.

"It was then I decided that nursing was the profession for me.

"To serve as a volunteer on the hospital ship Africa Mercy with its six operating theatres and 78-bed hospital was something I had wanted to do for so many years."

"I have been so blessed to have been born in a wealthy country.

"I was actually born with clubbed feet, a problem that was easily fixed with casts when I was six weeks old.

"If I had been born in a country like Benin, like so many children here, I could have been walking on the sides of my feet for many years, or even for all of my life.

"It is such a delight being in the ward with patients as they recover from surgery, getting to know them, doing arts and crafts with them and playing games.

"We pray for miracles, because sometimes that is all we can do. And sometimes we are blessed with miracles," Deb said.

Andrea says she wasn't quite ready to head for West Africa with Mercy Ships as quickly as it all happened.

"I had worked in Zambia in a home for street children and assisted on a medical mission to a remote part of that country.

"I then looked at Mercy Ships as a well known organisation with a good reputation, and had planned to offer myself for service in 2010.

"But two weeks after I sent my application off, Mercy Ships asked me to consider coming in six weeks time because of a shortage then of nurses.

"I thought it would be too difficult to organise, but God worked it all out, including my job, finding a replacement housemate, and deferring my university study on international health. …

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