Campbell River’s Jesse Spooner will volunteer aboard the world’s largest charity hospital ship.

Local man to volunteer onboard African hospital ship

Campbell River’s Jesse Spooner will leave Vancouver Island behind for the island nation of Madagascar

Campbell River’s Jesse Spooner will leave Vancouver Island behind for the island nation of Madagascar.

Its population of 22 million has little access to healthcare, and Spooner, 22, will contribute to changing this as he boards the world’s largest charity hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, docked in the country’s port city Tamatave.

The Africa Mercy is a volunteer driven hospital ship belonging to international charity Mercy Ships which provides free surgeries and healthcare to those most in need.

Spooner will pay his own way to volunteer his services as a housekeeper on board.

He leaves Vancouver Island on April 26 for Madagascar.

Spooner, who moved from Campbell River recently to study at the University of Victoria, aspires to be a physician.

“I want to be able to make a difference in the lives of people who are unable to access appropriate health care,” says Spooner.

He will spend two months living and working alongside 400 crew members from around the world.

His unique role may not be one that most think of when it comes to helping the poor, but Spooner will play an important part on the ship, making sure patients have a clean space to sleep and recover in comfort.

“The fact that so many people are willing to take months and even years out of their busy schedules is amazing,” says Spooner.

“I look forward to being part of an atmosphere that is driven to provide health care to others.”

The Africa Mercy and the Mercy Ships team spend an average of 10 months in each country they visit, holding screenings, performing medical operations, providing post-operative care and general health services, training local leaders and aiding in development projects.

Massive goiters, cleft lips and palates, cataracts, bowed legs and fistulas are some of the common issues seen by Africa Mercy medical staff as they move from port to port in Africa.

The ship functions like a small town which requires many different departments and skills to function properly.

Although the main purpose of the ship is to be a hospital for patients to come and receive free health care and surgery, it is a community that lives together, works together and is driven to be there for the purpose of bringing hope and healing to those less fortunate.

The Africa Mercy would not be able to deliver healthcare services without its crew of exemplary volunteers like Spooner.

To further support Spooner’s work in Africa visit: mercyships.donorpages.com/MERCYGIFTS/JesseSpooner2014/