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Ship gives Sarah hope

SARAH Hogan is used to helping people.
She is the student welfare officer at Foster Primary School, the school nurse at Leongatha Secondary College and an operating theatre nurse at the South Gippsland Hospital.
In May, Sarah put all of her amazing experience and skills to use on the Africa Mercy ship, a floating hospital that this year, was anchored off the coast of Cameroon, Africa.
For two weeks, Sarah worked in the ship’s operating theatre recovery rooms.
“I wanted to do some volunteer work and the Mercy ship looked like an amazing thing to do,” she said.
“I applied two years ago, so it took me a while to get over there.”
The former large cargo ship was converted into a floating hospital and is staffed wholly by international volunteers.
While in Cameroon, ship staff provided life changing surgery to children and adults with mass facial tumours, congenital deformities, restrictive burns scarring, cleft palates, obstetric fistulas, extreme malnutrition and other conditions.
“A lot of the medical conditions we treated were not things we would see in Australia,” Sarah said.
The ship provides healthcare to people in African countries like Cameroon, where many people can’t afford to access medical treatment.
“Around one third of the country survives on less than $1 a day. They just can’t afford health care,” Sarah said.
The ship is located in the same place for around 10 months, before it sails to its next destination.
“There are four operating theatres on the ship, so being docked in the country for 10 months means it can provide a significant amount of help,” Sarah said.
One of the most incredible moments Sarah experienced during her time on the ship was seeing the transformations in people she helped treat.
She was aware people would undergo physical changes, but the psychological changes she saw in the patients were quite unexpected.
“It was shocking and heartbreaking to see the patients before their time on board the ship,” Sarah said.
“But it was miraculous to see their transformation as they headed back home. I was truly blessed to be part of it, even if it was only for a few weeks.”
Paul came onto the ship at four months old and weighing just two kilograms.
“He was so malnourished,” Sarah said.
“By the end, he was a chubby baby and strong enough to have the surgery he needed. If the Mercy ship hadn’t come along when it did, he would have died.”
After experiencing the amazing work of the Mercy ship, Sarah said she was keen to volunteer again when it docked in Senegal in 2020.
“I will need to find some other volunteer opportunities between now and then,” she said.

Big job: Foster’s Sarah Hogan spent a fortnight on the African Mercy ship in May, volunteering as an operating theatre nurse and working in the recovery room.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=25388

Posted by on Jul 10 2018. Filed under Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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