This is the Africa Mercy. Inside of this hospital ship are operating rooms, patient beds, sleeping quarters, dining rooms, offices, and even a very small gym. But just like Mercy Ships is far more than the people who work here, the Africa Mercy is far more than the rooms that make her up.
There was an extra winner at Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia’s 16th Annual Cruise Industry Awards – Mercy Ships.
Canberra Hospital intensive care nurse Therese Knight has just returned home to Kaleen after her second trip to Africa serving on board the world's largest independent hospital ship - the Africa Mercy.
It is one thing to acknowledge the devastating divide between 'the haves and the have-nots'.
But it takes a whole lot of pluck to break out of your own bubble and travel half-way around the world to help.
An intensive care nurse at Canberra Hospital, Therese Knight joined the volunteer crew of the Africa Mercy for six weeks this time in the West African nation of Benin after last serving with international medical charity Mercy Ships in Madagascar in 2015.
“It is my personal response to the deeper question of what does one do in the face of the world’s poverty and need,” Mrs Knight said.
When Wantirna South nurse Emily Fortune returned home from a volunteer trip to Africa in 2015, she felt she had left a part of her behind.
“My heart ached to return to serve again,” Miss Fortune said.
So in October last year she headed back to Africa to serve with the international medical charity Mercy Ships on board the world’s largest independent hospital ship once again.
When Moorebank High School teacher Susan Moore told her students that she was going to be spending her summer break working with a charity in Africa, it came as a somewhat of shock.
“One student asked if I would get paid. I said ‘no’ and that I actually had to pay to live on board. He nearly jumped out of his seat!”
Lorraine Walker was born in Brisbane but it took her 30 years to find her favourite place in the world: Africa. After first visiting six years ago, Miss Walker returned to Africa in November to spend two months volunteering with a medical charity working in the West Africa nation of Benin.
“I came to Africa for the first time with my sister as I wanted something to focus on rather than the fact I was turning 30. Seven weeks, mostly on safaris, on this continent made me realise this is where I love and where I belong,” Miss Walker said.
Like many high school graduates, Chirnside Park teenager Jacqui Saward wasn’t sure what she wanted to do after leaving her school days behind at the end of last year.
But unlike most of her peers who take a gap year after completing grade 12, Miss Saward decided to use her free time to volunteer with a medical NGO in West Africa.
Madagascar is a long way from the Darling Downs town of Chinchilla in Queensland, but come Christmas there’s no place Robyn Porep would rather be.
The work of volunteers serving with the Mercy Ships charity on board Africa Mercy, the world's largest charity hospital ship, will be featured in an hour-long episode of the TV series Mighty Ships.
Mighty Ships will screen on the Seven Network's 7TWO on Saturday 3 December at 6:00pm. The program shows life on board and the work being done by a volunteer crew of more than 460 people in West Africa.