They really need our Kiwi nurses
Volunteer nurse Nicholas Booth helped improve the lives of countless Africans during his time with Mercy Ships.
Now he's urging South Auckland nurses to do the same.
Mercy Ships is a faith-based charity that sends medical professionals to Africa with treatment provided on its state-of-the-art hospital ship.
It's had a good response from Kiwis on its last few voyages to the continent but hardly any volunteers from South Auckland have come forward.
Mr Booth went to Togo with Mercy Ships in April and May and says it was one of the most rewarding experiences of his life.
"There's a sense of satisfaction from helping those that can't help themselves," Mr Booth says.
"It brings about valuable, life-changing experiences."
The ships offer a huge array of medical care, providing elective and corrective surgery for benign tumours, obstetric complaints, burns, cleft lips, cataracts, hernias and other conditions.
But it needs plenty of dedicated volunteers like Mr Booth to staff it.
"I have a skill where I can provide nursing care when many people don't have access to it.
"I recognise it as a blessing and that we are very privileged with the resources we have here in New Zealand."
The change in children who had cataracts removed amazed the Auckland Hospital nurse. "To see a family of five to six children - all born blind - then get surgery and can see is pretty awesome," Mr Booth says.
"They needed help eating, getting dressed and one day they get the covers taken off their eyes.
"A few days later you see a little boy running on the soccer pitch - it's pretty unreal."
And that change also benefits the caregivers, Mr Booth says.
"That frees up two people - the person with the infirmity and the person that was leading him around the streets," he says.
Meeting nurses from different cultures also opened the Hillsborough resident's eyes.
"You make some fantastic friends from various parts of the world.
"They're like-minded people who want to help," Mr Booth says.
Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, the United States and Canada are just some of the countries that regularly contribute nurses.
Mr Booth says Christian faith plays a big part in many people's motivation for going, including his own, but not everyone on the ship is religious.
Mercy Ships spokeswoman Sharon Walls says it's unclear why so few nurses from South Auckland have taken part in the last couple of years.
But she's sure if they do sign up for the next trip to Guinea, which runs from later this month until June next year, they won't regret it.
Go to mercyships.org for more information.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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