G'day folks,

Today I feature a story about some extraordinary Aussie volunteers - MERCY SHIPS AUSTRALIA.

Mercy Ships is a unique medical charity that uses hospital ships and ground based teams to deliver free surgeries and health care to the poorest people in the developing world. We have transformed the lives of more than 2.42 million people in the least developed countries for more than 35 years. Australian surgeons, nurses and other staff volunteer their services and pay for their own expenses so we can treat more people.

Mercy Ships Australia is a charity registered in Australia and governed by the Australian Board. The Australian Office, based in Caloundra, Qld, is part of a global network of offices whose mission is to promote the work of Mercy Ships through fundraising, volunteer recruitment and the procurement of materials and services.

How Donations Are Allocated

Mercy Ships is committed to being completely transparent with you. From every $1 donation 82c goes straight to our Ship and Field Operations to provide surgeries and medical care to those who have no other hope. As little as 18c is set aside for the cost of raising volunteers and funds and overhead expenses.

Where does the money come from?

Most of our donations come from regular people who generously donate whatever they can, as small or as large as that amount may be. Money donated to Mercy Ships comes from many areas of the community, including: 

Individuals: 76%
Organisations*: 22%
Wills and Bequests: 2%
*Organisations include companies, churches, clubs, groups and schools


 Help Support our Volunteers

Mercy Ships draws its volunteers from a range of backgrounds. Some offer specialist medical, dental and nursing skills, while others have maritime and other expertise that is essential to the running of the Africa Mercy. They have different backgrounds, but are fired by a desire to help some of the world’s most vulnerable people. 

Want to help? Check out this:

Our volunteers pay for their own expenses including travel and board so we can treat more people.

Your donations help support the vital work of our volunteers. Donations support patients whilst recuperating onboard the ship and provide medical supplies and equipment and help fund medical training and community projects. Please donate generously and help the forgotten poor.

Deb Louden, Long Term Volunteer Ward Nurse.

We interviewed Australian volunteers who are serving in the Republic of the Congo including long-term volunteer Deb Louden and first time volunteers, the Dunne family.

Queensland nurse and Mercy Ships Australia volunteer Deb Louden says she “left her heart in Africa" after her first period of service with Mercy Ships and is now back helping some of the continent’s most vulnerable people. Deb Louden first volunteered in Benin from April to November 2009 and returned as a long-term volunteer in January 2011, serving in Sierra Leone, Togo, Guinea and now in the Republic of the Congo.

Deb, 26, studied nursing at the University of Southern Queensland and worked in Toowoomba as a nurse for two years, the minimum requirement for volunteering as a nurse onboard the Africa Mercy. While at high school she visited the Philippines, Bali and Indonesia, which opened her eyes to the scarce medical resources in Third World countries. She now works as a charge and ward nurse.

“The medical needs that we see are above and beyond what you would ever see in a western country. These people have no money or no one who could help their problem, until we arrived. Some die before we arrive because there just aren’t enough doctors here. I work with Mercy Ships because I love it. I love serving the people in their most vulnerable state, when no one else has been able to help them. I love to love them through the hardship and healing that takes place in the ward,” she says.

But Deb, who has several sponsors supporting her Mercy Ships work, declares the challenges have helped her develop leadership skills. “While being onboard, volunteering as a nurse, I have learnt great leadership skills in leading a team of  nurses not only in the ward but for other events such as screening day, where we see thousands of patients in one day."

And she declares her role gives her great personal and professional fulfilment. “I have a thousand happy memories which have made me a better person. I have been challenged and given the opportunity to change and grow in my faith and as a person. Through each situation there is an opportunity to grow. If it is joyful, you have the opportunity to let it overflow to someone else or if it is heart-wrenching, can be thankful for all that you have been given. There is always something to be thankful for.”

The Dunne Family, New Volunteers

 What started as an opportunity to serve some of Africa's most needy people has become a “big adventure" aboard the Africa Mercy for the Dunne family. Marine engineer Mick Dunne, 46, wife Tammy, 40, and sons Jack, 12, Mark, 9, and Harry, 6, are a volunteer family serving with Mercy Ships in the Republic of the Congo. 

Mick, who spent 23 years in the Royal Australian Navy as a marine engineer officer, is the third engineer officer aboard Africa Mercy responsible for the vessel‘s generators and auxiliary systems, while Tammy works in staff training and as an interim PE teacher. 

“We became a volunteer family for a few reasons - firstly, because we wanted to give something back as we feel so blessed; secondly, because we felt that God has called us to step out in faith to do this relying on His provision and thirdly, because it’s a big adventure - why not," says Tammy.

After deciding to serve, Mick and Tammy left their jobs, sold their car, rented out the family home and undertook a six week introductory course in Texas before joining the Africa Mercy in June during dry dock in Tenerife, Canary Islands. They plan to work and live aboard the hospital ship until June 2015.

Living as a family aboard brings challenges, admits Tammy. “Space, ship rules and maintaining our family setup within a larger community - physical and emotional challenges. Spiritually, taking time out from a busy schedule is always a challenge. With respect to the hospital, a big challenge may be dealing with what we see - things that we haven't seen before that are confronting and how to help our children interpret and understand what they see."

For their sons it has meant a major change in schooling, but one they are handling well.
“As the school is small, the boys seem to be getting a good amount of attention and are enthusiastically tackling their school work and homework. And there are plenty of extra-curricular activities for the boys to pursue such as a running club, karate, small soccer club and a Student Life program for students to give them community and life experiences at school - ranging from cooking to introduction to fire fighting."

For the Dunne family, their service with Mercy Ships is a major part of their Christian faith and a great life experience. “God willing, if we come back to Australia and our three boys are more compassionate towards other people, with a bigger view of the world, then that would be awesome. If Mick and I have contributed to the mission of the ship, by doing our jobs, then we will be thrilled. Hopefully, we will get to know some of the Congolese people and find out their stories, too,” says Tammy.

Clancy's comment: I take my hat off to all who give of their time. Man, the world is full of gifted people, eh?

Love ya work!

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