Hatfield nurse gives up holidays to go to Senegal with Stevenage charity’s medical ship
PUBLISHED: 12:48 10 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:45 10 March 2020
A nurse from Hatfield will set sail for Senegal aboard a floating hospital for six weeks, for Stevenage-based charity Mercy Ships.
Hannah Mulvihill will spend her annual leave from Lister Hospital volunteering for the third time as a surgical ward nurse on board the Africa Mercy, the world's largest charity-run hospital ship.
The 32-year-old University of Hertfordshire alumna said: 'I can't remember when I first heard about Mercy Ships, but I knew I wanted to volunteer with them the moment I did so I worked hard to gain skills in the surgical nursing field before I applied.
'Mercy Ships don't just provide free surgery for local patients, they train local medical professionals in the latest techniques. This means that when the ship leaves port they leave a legacy of improvement to the local infrastructure.
'I hope one day they manage to do themselves out of a job! I love being part of a charity that transforms the lives of the patients we encounter through free surgery while also investing in the local community through training.'
The Irish native from County Mayo said she was undaunted by the spread of coronavirus, which has hit Senegal and hopes it will not cancel her travel plans.
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She added that she will miss her beautiful dog - Murphy. 'Friends of mine will look after him. He's my child,' she said.
Though she says between being busy on the ship and regularly going out to cultural events - as part of her charity work - she never gets bored.
'I know it will be a hard and busy six weeks, but it is truly one of my favourite ways to spend my annual leave. I know I will make more amazing friends from all over the world and I'm also very excited to catch up with old friends who are still on-board.'
The hospital vessel is staffed by volunteers from more than 40 different nations who work in a variety of roles to help change the lives of some of the world's poorest people.
She added: 'We enter into an agreement for five years with the government. We plan and assess the needs for five years, the ship comes to the country for 10 months in the middle of the five years and then we assess the impact we have had in the final two years.'
You can follow Hannah's journey when she sets sail on April 25, by searching Instagram for 'my_mercy_ships_journey'.
For further information about the work of Mercy Ships, and the volunteering opportunities - which have to be for a certain period of time - visit mercyships.org.uk.