Continuing Care grad sails into Africa
Liam Dee says the gravity of the journey wasn’t lost on him as he sailed into port in Cameroon, Africa.
Just days after graduating from the Continuing Care program at the Annapolis Valley Campus, Liam volunteered to join the crew of the Africa Mercy – a floating hospital ship operated by Mercy Ships Canada. The 152-metre long vessel provides free lifesaving surgeries for people in places where medical care is virtually non-existent.
“Knowing we were sailing in waters that were once dominated by ships bent on destroying human life – while our ship and crew had a higher calling in mind – was sobering to say the least,” says Liam of the historic slave trade.
Seeing the medical conditions that poverty can bring on is upsetting. A simple problem can easily become much more complex or even fatal. It shows you how lucky we are in Canada.
Life aboard a floating hospital
With space at a premium, Liam explains that the floating hospital operated very differently than a typical Canadian hospital. “It was incredible to see the medical equipment go from being completely packed away for the sail, to unfolding into a clean and pleasant hospital you’d see back home.”
Despite the obvious differences, Liam says that his NSCC training served him well while he worked to ensure that surgeons were able to meet the ship’s vision of bringing hope and healing to the poor. “Since cleaning and sanitary practices are a big part of CCA work, I was called upon to help train new crew and the Cameroonian day crew workers.” He adds, “I also prepared wards and other areas of the hospital for patients.”
During his journey, Liam visited and worked at Mercy Ship’s Hospital Out Patient Extension (HOPE) Centre in Camaroon.
“Seeing the medical conditions that poverty can bring on is upsetting,” says Liam. “It shows you how lucky we are in Canada. The majority of the diseases afflicting people at the HOPE Centre are benign, but they don’t have access to health care like we do in Canada.” For those individuals who they were helping, Liam says, “a simple problem can easily become much more complex or even fatal.”
With the unforgettable hands-on experience now complete, Liam is looking forward to building on his continuing care education by pursuing additional training in the medical field. “My NSCC instructors were very encouraging and helped build my confidence. It’s why I made the decision to join the crew of the Africa Mercy, and to pursue nursing as a career.”
Volunteers from over 49 nations have served aboard the Africa Mercy. It is the largest non-governmental hospital ship in the world, and houses five operating theatres and 80 patient beds. (source).