After five years as an intensive care nurse at Christchurch Hospital, Jess Doney is used to dealing with crises. Her acquired skills have been put to the test when she recently stepped into a new and extraordinary surgical environment.
The 26-year-old signed on articles for a two-month tour-our-duty in Benin, West Africa, providing care for patients who receive free essential surgery that is inaccessible in their own nation. Jess worked primarily in the ship’s ICU, and one of the five wards where she cared for patients of all ages recovering after the removal of huge, benign yet life-threatening, tumours.
But what Jess says she didn’t expect during her volunteer service was a shift in her own perspective, “Mainly in being thankful for the ‘little things’.
“I visited at the boys’ orphanage here in Cotonou regularly. One week the boys were asked what they were thankful for. Their responses were along the lines of, ‘ I am thankful because I am alive’, and ‘Because I woke up today – lots of people didn’t!’” These comments from little boys have made her think differently about just being grateful for life, and the simple joys that each day brings.”
“Mercy Ships is unique in their work ethic, their willingness to help and serve the people of Benin,” Jess comments in reflection. “I would definitely volunteer again.”