Littlehampton nurse tells of her time serving on African hospital ship

Elizabeth Chitty is one of the nurses manning the Africa Mercy hospital ship which is docked in Madagascar
Elizabeth Chitty is one of the nurses manning the Africa Mercy hospital ship which is docked in Madagascar
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A NURSE has ‘rediscovered’ her passion after caring for vulnerable patients on a ship docked off the coast of Africa.

Elizabeth Chitty, of Littlehampton, is volunteering with Mercy Ships, an international charity that delivers free medical care and aid to the world’s poor.

Elizabeth spends her time caring for patients from some of the poorest parts of the globe

Elizabeth spends her time caring for patients from some of the poorest parts of the globe

The Africa Mercy is a hospital ship, with surgeons, dentists, nurses, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists all volunteering.

It is currently docked in Madagascar, where it is believed 90 per cent of the population live on less than 75p a day.

Elizabeth, who is a volunteer ward nurse, said: “Being a nurse on board is like rediscovering why you became a nurse in the first place. Most of us become nurses because we want to help people get better so they can carry on with their lives and maybe even help them lead better healthier lives.

“Nursing on the ship in Africa involves much of the same activities as nursing the UK or whichever country we come from but the bigger picture is very different.

“We don’t just take medical histories from patients, we listen to their stories.

“We laugh with them and we cry with them but most of all we love them just as they know that they will leave the ship changed by their surgery – it’s so exciting to be part of that process.

“As nurses, we see the patients at their most vulnerable, in pain after surgery but we also get to rejoice as the possibilities of what it means to be healed start to sink in as the suffering they felt before turns to hope for a better future.

“These are the poorest of the poor, no one needs hope more than them. Nursing on the Africa Mercy has made me a better nurse in more ways than one and I hope that wherever I work, I can take that passion to serve the world’s forgotten poor and apply it to my patient care whoever that patient might be.”

Judy Polkinhorn, executive director of Mercy Ships UK, praised the commitment of the nurses.

She said: “Mercy Ships simply would not be able to carry on with the work that we do if not for the dedicated nurses, like Elizabeth, who give up their time to volunteer.”

Mercy Ships needs more than 700 nurses to volunteer on the ships every year.