Kira Loughlin has returned home to Freshwater after volunteering as an operating theatre nurse on board the world’s largest independent hospital ship.
Ms Loughlin joined Mercy Ships, the international medical charity that operates the Africa Mercy, in early September for six weeks during the ship’s current field service in Benin, West Africa.
It was while she was living in London and travelling through Europe, the Middle East and Africa that Ms Loughlin first got the urge to help others.
“I began to realise just how lucky I am to live in such a great country as Australia, where access to health care is not only a privilege but a right,” she said.
After completing her nursing degree, Ms Loughlin wondered how she could not only give back to her community but to humanity as a whole.
“I remember watching a documentary on Mercy Ships when I was younger but it wasn’t until I saw it on Facebook that I discovered the perfect way to volunteer my time and gain an incredible experience by helping to deliver the best health care to some of the world’s poorest nations and people in desperate need.”
An operating theatre nurse at the Mater Hospital in North Sydney and a volunteer with the Manly Warringah Division of St John’s Ambulance, Ms Louglin said her family and friends were supportive of her decision to join Mercy Ships.
“The work that Mercy Ships provides is invaluable to the country that it is visiting.”
“Benin remains one of the poorest countries in Africa with low literacy, inadequate free primary health care, and a very high disease rate of malaria, typhoid, yellow fever, meningitis, meningococcal, HIV/AIDS and Hep A.”
With five operating theatres and 82 patient beds on board, Mercy Ships plans to provide more than 1,700 surgeries to adult and paediatric patients, to treat over 8,000 people at a land-based dental clinic, and to provide training and mentoring to Beninese health care professionals during its current 10-month field service.
“The work I did in the operating theatre is only a very small percentage of what it takes to run the ship. Everyone does their little bit so that we can provide health care to the patients.”
“Seeing a patient waking up and when they notice that they feel and look different from when they went to sleep, there is this massive smile on their face. And then you think this is why you do it – miss your family and friends – to see a person struggle with their illness see that this surgery can change their quality of life.”
“I will forever hold this experience deep within me. As much as you tell your family and friends what it’s like, they will never fully understand what it feels like within when you to know that you have helped give this person a totally new outlook on life.”
“I hope that through my experiences I can at least motivate people to come to Mercy Ships or to donate funds so that these services can still be carried out for many years to come.”
For further information, please contact:
National Office Manager, Mercy Ships Australia