Celebrating International Nurses Day
Nurses from all over the world have volunteered with Mercy Ships to bring hope and healing to thousands of patients in third world countries.
One such nurse is Victoria Gardiner, a ward nurse from Bristol. Victoria has recently returned home after volunteering on the hospital ship, which is docked in Madagascar where more than 90% of the population live on less than 75p a day.
Victoria said: “Volunteering for Mercy Ships has always been something I dreamt of doing since before my nurse training. I think to be able to take the skills and knowledge that you have been given to help others who have no other option is a real honour and privilege.
“During my time on the ship I worked on a surgical ward specialised to VVF patients. These ladies have come to Mercy Ships because they have suffered from fistula, an impairment which is sustained in childbirth, leaving many women leaking urine and faeces for many years and rejected by the community because of it. I also worked on rotation on some of the other wards, including maxillofacial and plastics, where many patients have large facial tumours, cleft lips, noma, among other debilitating conditions.
“The most amazing part is witnessing the transformation of so many patients, physically and emotionally. Many patients even learn to read and write during their time on board.
“Professionally I’ve learnt a lot about different conditions; things I hadn’t experienced before. I have seen things that I have never seen, as many of the patients are suffering from conditions that are unlikely to be seen in the UK.
“Volunteering on the ship has given me a new outlook on my job as a nurse – since I have returned home I appreciate more. My job, whether back home or in Africa, is always very rewarding, however, I think the difference here is what you get back from the patients; the love, joy and transformation is far more rewarding than what you can actually give them.”
Judy Polkinhorn, Executive Director of Mercy Ships UK, said: “Mercy Ships simply would not be able to carry on with the work that we do if it wasn’t for the dedicated nurses, like Victoria, who give up their time to volunteer. Mercy Ships requires around 750 nurses to volunteer each year and the dedication and commitment of those nurses is admired and cherished. We would like to thank each one for all their hard work.”
International Nurses Day is an opportunity to celebrate nursing and the contribution nurses make, improving the lives of individuals and their families, the health and wellbeing of whole communities and the wider population across the world. It is held on the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale who is widely recognised as an important founder of modern nursing.