Almost 9 years ago I travelled to Western Kenya with a small team to help provide medical care to individuals in a village outside Migori. I loved the experience, the “work”, the people I met living and serving there full time, and the opportunity to use my nursing skills outside of the hospital setting I was used to.
Fast forward to December 2019. I applied to serve with an organization called Mercy Ships as a volunteer ICU nurse on their hospital ship: the Africa Mercy. I was accepted and awaiting dates to go when the pandemic hit. At that time, the hospital ship had to return mid-assignment from Dakar, Senegal, leaving their work unfinished. Many people who were promised surgeries were then unable to receive them and left to wait for Africa Mercy’s return.
With Mercy Ships on hold, my focus changed to a different type of “medical missions” work, right here in the USA. I continued working in central Florida with my Trauma ICU team for the 2020 year before knowing that my time in Florida was ending. I then made the difficult transition out of a job and team I loved, and moved into travel nursing - something I said I’d never do! (I didn’t like floating to other units inside my own hospital, let alone the idea of always floating to different areas of someone else’s hospital!)
I’ve now been travel nursing for 15 months. I’ve worked in northern Arizona and southern Oregon, and been able to visit so many beautiful places. I’ve met incredible people, learned new charting systems, and worked in areas of the hospital I’d never worked in before. Now I have the opportunity to go serve in a different way: on the Africa Mercy. I’ll be on board in Dakar, Senegal from June 11-Aug 6, 2022; living, eating, learning and working in their hospital taking care of post surgical patients on their recovery wards and ICU.
Mercy Ships provides free surgeries to individuals who don’t have the funds or access to the medical care that we see here in North America. The types of surgeries include things like: cataract and vision repair; maxillofacial surgeries like cleft palate repairs; orthopedics surgeries to repair club feet and twisted limbs; facial tumor removals; plastic reconstructive surgeries; and women’s health surgeries to repair things like fistulas occurring during childbirth.
In addition to surgeries, Mercy Ships provides oral health care, mental illness support, palliative care, and other general surgeries. They also provide training and mentoring programs for local surgeons, nurses, anesthesia providers, OR techs and biomedical technicians, as well as educational opportunities, day employment for locals in the ship (Eg: translators, day crew) and local hospital renovations.
If you’ve read this far, then please know your consideration to support me financially means a lot. I’ve always loved being able to get behind great causes and give to others financially to help them GO. As a volunteer this summer with Mercy Ships, I’ll be taking time off my paid job and instead paying my way to travel to Africa to volunteer.
Easiest ways to donate? Venmo: @monicadoody
* If you'd like to donate and get a tax receipt (USA donors), I can direct you to a donation link through Mercy Ship's website.
To read more about the Mercy Ships organization, you can visit their website (www.mercyships.org) and follow them on Instagram @mercyships.
Thanks for being a part of this next yes-adventure with me. I’m looking forward to sharing the stories with you all! Thank you for helping me GO. - MD