A couple who met in a Mercy Ship operating theatre are fundraising to get back to West Africa on the same ship.
Melanie Schulze of Warkworth married Michel Pelzer of Germany in January this year. They leave for West Africa on September 17.
The trained medical volunteers, who are working at the Rodney Surgical Centre in Warkworth, have both served twice with Mercy Ships since 2009 where they met in Benin, West Africa.
They are working alongside one another in the shipboard operating theatres with the aim of helping people receive desperately needed healthcare. Their decision to return as a married couple was made as they realised they were passionate about serving West African people.
"It is a blessing to use the skills we have, to help and love the people there who would not receive this care otherwise," Melanie says.
"Michel and I feel fortunate to share this desire and passion.
"The decision to go was easy," she says. "It's the financial preparation and leaving family and friends that is the most challenging."
This will be the fourth time the Pelzers will be on board the Africa Mercy Ship. A key focus during their eight months in Guinea, West Africa, will be eye surgery.
From the ship's captain to the cooks, and surgeons to the administrators, all are volunteers who also pay their own costs to live on board.
Because the crew raise sponsorship and don't receive salaries, a larger than usual percentage of donations goes straight to providing healthcare services where needed. Community groups, churches, friends and family usually pitch in to help.
Visit mercyships.org.nz. To help the Pelzers phone 0800 637 297 and ask to make a donation to Melanie Pelzer.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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