Ship­mates work to make a dif­fer­ence

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

De­spite com­ing from the same Waikato town, Glenys Gilling­ham and Janine Boyes had not met un­til they started chang­ing lives in Africa.

The pair are vol­un­teer­ing aboard a float­ing hos­pi­tal docked in Free­town, Sierra Leone, pro­vid­ing the poor with free med­i­cal treat­ment.

The pair had never met be­fore, al­though they both hail from Mata­mata and ar­rived in Sierra Leone in Fe­bru­ary – they are now close friends and have ad­ja­cent cab­ins on the ship.

Miss Gilling­ham joined the Mercy Ships or­gan­i­sa­tion in 2006 as an op­er­at­ing room nurse and has since car­ried out a num­ber of mis­sions to a num­ber of coun­tries, in­clud­ing Ghana, Liberia and Togo.

She be­lieves she is well suited to liv­ing and work­ing among the poor.

‘‘I had been work­ing for about 25 years in mis­sions in Zam­bia and Congo and went home. Af­ter about five years I de­cided I’d be bet­ter off in a Third World coun­try than in a cushy job.’’

She said she quickly grew tired of life back in New Zealand and wanted to help peo­ple on a big­ger scale.

Ms Boyes joined Mercy Ships at the end of 2009 and works in hu­man re­sources, man­ag­ing the ar­rival of all new vol­un­teers.

She has had pre­vi­ous ca­reers in bank­ing and health and fit­ness.

‘‘ I’d al­ready done some mis­sion work in Thai­land and knew that’s what I was meant to be do­ing.

‘‘It’s been great. It’s cer­tainly dif­fer­ent to work­ing at home.’’

Africa Mercy spends 10 months in a dif­fer­ent West African coun­try ev­ery year, with vol­un­teers de­liv­er­ing the health­care ser­vices that are usu­ally un­avail­able there.

The ship pro­vides care for 70 pa­tients at a time in gen­eral and in­ten­sive care wards and in six op­er­at­ing the­atres.

The ma­jor­ity of work in­volved sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures for prob­lems such as head tu­mours, cleft lip and palate and her­nias, Miss Gilling­ham said.

A field team screens pa­tients on land to find out their needs and then ar­ranges ap­point­ments for them on the ship.

In the time the ship is docked about 10,000 peo­ple also re­ceive den­tal treat­ment.

Miss Gilling­ham is spon­sored by Mata­mata Bi­ble Church and Ms Boyes by Mata­mata Bap­tist Church and they are both sup­ported/spon­sored by many friends and fam­ily in the Mata­mata com­mu­nity. These peo­ple are also a vi­tal part of the team mak­ing the work on the Africa Mercy pos­si­ble.

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