Volunteering on a hospital ship may have its glamorous side, but Heather Provan, of Warkworth, has also encountered the mundane.
Among her duties in the crew services department of the 16,000 tonne Africa Mercy is washing the ship’s engineering and galley uniforms.
But Heather has no complaints.
“I am a very small cog in a huge organisation, but without the small cogs working efficiently, the hospital wouldn’t be possible,” she says.
Currently Africa Mercy – the world’s largest civilian hospital ship – is in the Canary Islands undergoing maintenance but will soon set sail for Guinea, West Africa, to resume its medical work.
Heather is with the ship for three months and is supported by the Mahurangi Presbyterian Church.
It’s the second time Heather has volunteered to serve on the ship.
Last year, she was in Cameroon where more than 2500 essential surgeries were performed and more than 10,000 dental patients were treated.
“This experience satisfies my desire to help others and has given me amazing experiences and adventures,” Heather says.
“I feel each day is a gift from God and I must make the most of it. He has given me such blessings during my lifetime. I want to be a blessing to others who are less fortunate.”
Currently, the ship has vacancies for more volunteers, including a social studies teacher, orthopaedic surgeon, hairdresser and IT systems administrator.
Mercy Ships is a faith-based charity which uses hospital ships to deliver free healthcare services to people in the developing world.