Why work for free?

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Naomi Watts, operating theatre nurse
Naomi Watts, operating theatre nurse, served in Benin, West Africa

Assisting in surgery for one special patient was the highlight Naomi Watts’ time on board the Mercy Ship. The Cantabrian explains how Cecile’s operation to have a facial tumour removed was a poignant reminder of why she was working for free, so far from home.“As I did Cecile’s pre-op checks and took her into theatre, she shared her child had passed away then her husband left her because of the tumour. Cecile had been excluded from society because of the growth and very rarely left her house. This was the life she’d known for several years.

“This is a common circumstance for many patients who come with a physical growth or abnormality of some kind. Cecile was very quiet and kept much to herself when she came. To see her smile after her surgery, and to hear from the ward nurses about how much she continued to smile and emerge from her shell, was very rewarding.

“There have certainly been a mountain of new experiences and I have faced different challenges. I have assisted in completing operations that I would never encounter back in New Zealand. I have never need to think outside of the box more, or more creatively approach various and multiple surgical sites. As basic health care is readily available at home these issues are dealt with early, or prevented in the first place.”

When asked if the experience has changed her, Naomi replies, “Mercy Ships is like a mixed bag of lollies. There’s so many languages, cultures, perspectives, values, and ways in viewing the world. It’s a multiculturalism experience on steroids, an experience I loved. The fact that my perspective and the way I see things isn’t the only or right perspective has been a good reminder for me. It’s not my job to fix the whole world, instead, God will give me the part of the world, and the role that he has planned for me to do in that part.

“I don’t think it’s possible to come away from this unchanged.”