01 Jun Let’s hear it for our incredible volunteers this Volunteers’ Week!
Transforming and saving lives is at the heart of why volunteers give their time and skills to Mercy Ships – but many discover they receive so much in return.
This Volunteers’ Week we want to celebrate our incredible volunteers for the lengths they go to in our partnership with Africa.
Everyone deserves medical treatment when they need it, but 9 out of 10 people living in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to safe surgery. This lack of access kills a staggering 17 million people each year.
There is only one doctor to every 100,000 people in Africa – and that’s where our volunteers step in.
By dedicating their time and efforts they are changing the outcome. Our hospital ships – the Global Mercy and the Africa Mercy – need more than 1,000 volunteers at a time. This means we need a constant resource of willing participants to be ready to commit to serve anything from two weeks to a year.
Phenomenally, many of our volunteers give far more time than this – even decades! There are 200 different roles on our ships, and only half the roles are medical – everything from teachers to technicians, cooks to receptionists.
Mercy Ships UK Crew Co-ordinator Hannah Mulvihill said: “This week we want to raise up our volunteers even more than usual and thank them for their dedicated service and kindness.
“We regularly try to highlight our volunteers as each one has such a unique and heartfelt reason for playing such a vital role is transforming lives – whether they are crew on our ships or helping in the UK on our exhibition stands or spreading the word of Mercy Ships through speaking at events.”
If you can’t wait for more volunteer stories this week, look at others we have highlighted in the past.
But as we look at our volunteers – we never lose sight of why they volunteer.
It’s to help people like Koumba
Koumba before and after her surgery from Mercy Ships
Let’s not forget the statistic above – there is only one doctor for every 100,000 people in Africa. So what happens when a vital caregiver gets sick?
That happened to midwife Koumba. With her village relying on her, the 39-year-old developed a lump on her neck until it grew into a large goitre, constricting her airway.
Even with 16 years of medical experience, Koumba could not access the surgical care she needed and feared she might be forced into an early death. Her growing goitre made it difficult to care for patients as Koumba became tired and breathless.
On hearing Mercy Ships was coming to Guinea, Koumba was confident that this was the answer to her family’s long-time prayer.
“My whole village is praying for me — they all want me to get help here so that I can keep helping them,” she said. “I want to be able to keep doing this work. There is nothing like it.”
Thanks to Mercy Ships supporters and volunteers – Koumba received her surgery and returned to her village to give the aid she so wanted and needed to give. Her surgery transformed so many more lives than her own.
This week let’s hear it for our phenomenal volunteers and their life-transforming, lifesaving contribution! Thank you so much!