As Yvonne Ferrari began to think about her retirement years, she knew she wanted to pursue volunteer work. She had worked for a number of years in the hospitality industry but wasn’t sure where her skills would fit in the mission field.
When a friend shared a bit about Mercy Ships and its mission, Yvonne knew she didn’t have to look any further.
“What Mercy Ships offers people is unique. They give people the chance to relive their lives. Mercy Ships gives a person their self-respect and self-confidence back again.”
Yvonne has now served aboard the Africa Mercy over three consecutive field services first in the Republic of Congo, followed by Madagascar in the hospitality department, first as a hostess and most recently in the dining room. She shares that her role on the ship is a perfect fit for her and she continues to return each year for the patients.
“To see the change in people, it’s so wonderful. Mother Theresa said we have drugs and medicines to heal all sorts of illnesses but what we don’t have is a drug or medicine to heal the feeling of being unwanted. What stands out to me is that Mercy Ships helps the poor and needy.”
Yvonne reveals that one particular patient made a lasting impression on her in the Congo. The patient had a very long name that Yvonne could not pronounce so she took to calling her “lovely girl.”
At first, the young lady would not look at Yvonne as she was embarrassed by the sizable tumor on her face; however after a successful operation and a long recovery, the young woman blossomed. Yvonne says she will never forget the day “lovely girl” waited by the door for her to arrive. The young patient pointed to herself and said, “lovely girl.”
“When she left it was very emotional for me because I saw her blossom. It was so emotional but rewarding to see what Mercy Ships had done for her. Mercy Ships gave her a new life.”
The impact that patients such as “lovely girl” have made on Yvonne are difficult to measure but she says that the last three years have made her less selfish and have allowed her to realize how blessed she is.
“My advice for a potential volunteer is that you’ll never know until you come, so just do it. The majority of people that come love it. There are so many people that come back again and again.”
Thanks for sharing Yvonne and for having such a willing heart!
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