A Heathfield woman is preparing for a two month trip to Senegal aboard a charity-run hospital ship.
Suzie Cole, 24, will be volunteering as a ward nurse aboard the Africa Mercy, which provides healthcare and training to developing countries.
She said: “Ever since I can remember, nursing has always been in my heart, especially nursing in lower economically developed countries where I can make a difference”.
Suzie wanted to be a nurse since childhood and grew passionate about missionary nursing. This, she says, inspired her to volunteer for Mercy Ships.
“I feel so fortunate to be able to go to Senegal and be a nurse out there and I am also honoured to help them,” Suzie said. “My dad initially told me about how awesome Mercy Ships are as he works for Spring Harvest.
“Since hearing about the work of Mercy Ships, I have been more and more impressed with the whole organisation, especially the love and blessings it brings people.”
The floating hospital is staffed almost entirely by volunteers, from more than 40 different nations, who work in a variety of roles to assist some of the world’s poorest people.
The charity, Mercy Ships, estimates that 93 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa’s population do not have access to safe and affordable surgery when they need it.
This, they say, results in more than 18 million deaths a year.
Hannah Mulvhill, crew support coordinator, said: “We are so grateful for the volunteers who travel to the Africa Mercy to volunteer their time and skills. “Only 50 per cent of the roles on the ship are medical and every role is filled by a volunteer. From the cleaners to the nurses, the receptionists to the electricians; we couldn’t offer this vital service without them.”
As for Suzie, she is preparing for cabin life.
She said: “I am looking forward to looking at life completely differently and gaining the joy which comes with mission nursing.
“I am also looking forward to making new friends and working as an amazing team to help others in Senegal.”
Mercy Ships sends hospital ships to places where surgeons are needed most. In turn, these surgeons train local medical professionals who can effect change after Mercy Ships departs.
The Africa Mercy will be docked in Dakar, the port capital of Senegal, until July 2020 where the charity hopes to deliver thousands of surgical procedures and training sessions.
Any UK donations made to Mercy Ships from October 1 to December 31 will be matched by the UK Government.
For further information about the work of Mercy Ships, and the volunteering opportunities on offer visit the website here