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Volunteering in Senegal

A nurse spend six months in the West African nation of Senegal on board a floating surgical hospital.

“I’m looking forward to using my nursing skills in a different way to help those most in need.”  Michelle Knubley, volunteer nurse on the Global Mercy

A nurse is to spend six months in the West African nation of Senegal on board a floating surgical hospital.

Michelle Knubley leaves from Auckland in early February to board the 36,000 gross-tonne Global Mercy — the world’s largest civilian hospital ship — and set sail for Senegal.

Mercy Ships is a charity that provides free healthcare services to people in desperate circumstances in sub-Saharan Africa. Michelle will join the volunteer crew and fill a key medical role.

Following the initial Covid-19 lockdown, she was inspired to look into volunteering after hearing about people’s experiences aboard Mercy Ships.

“I decided I needed to go and do something different,”

I’m looking forward to using my nursing skills in a different way to help those most in need.”

Michelle will be working as a surgical ward nurse in an international crew of 640.

She will be part of the vessel’s first surgical field service, providing essential healthcare for people who usually can’t access the help they need.

The Mercy Ships crew offer life-transforming surgeries such as benign tumour removal, cleft lip and palate reconstruction, health and burns reconstructive surgery — surgeries usually out of reach in low-income countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

“Mercy Ships are floating communities,” says Mercy Ships New Zealand communications manager Sharon Walls.

“Imagine a small town where the main industry is a regional surgical hospital. On board these huge ships are surgical and medical crew, mariners, IT professionals, hospitality staff, tradies and more.”

“In a typical year there are about 40 Kiwis volunteering for weeks, months or even years at a time. In 2024, we expect double that number.”

Michelle says she will miss the freedom of New Zealand life and walking her dog, but is looking forward to going to markets and experiencing West African culture.

“I’m looking forward to helping change lives.”

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