A Franco-Canadian onboard one of our hospital ships, the Global Mercy
Onboard a Hospital Ship for The First Time: Making a First Step
Léa Baron worked for Mercy Ships Canada for four years before setting foot on one of the vessels. “I was very impressed,” remembers Léa about her first impression of the Global Mercy®, which she greeted in the Netherlands when the ship was open to the public for tours in Rotterdam. The sheer size of the vessel was what first struck Léa. After all, it is the world’s largest civilian hospital ship: 174 metres long and weighing 37 300 tons. Now living in France, Léa works for Mercy Ships Canada remotely and “seized the opportunity” when the Global Mercy came to Europe.
She explains, “I just thought this is my chance. I really need to go, so I did.”
Léa volunteered as a welcoming host for several days in Rotterdam, moving visitors on the ship from deck 4 up to deck 7 and sometimes deck 11, then back to deck 4. “Making sure that people were where they needed to be” is how Léa sums up her duties.
Making it a Reality
“Just coincidence” is how Léa came to work for Mercy Ships Canada originally, as she was simply in search of a job after moving from Montreal to Victoria, where Mercy Ships Canada has its headquarters. Léa is now technically an employee of the Mercy Ships Global Association as French Language Marketing Administrator, continuing her administrative work for the Canadian office, writing and editing French content for the website and liaising with other French-speaking national offices under Mercy Ships.
“We see pictures and videos, so we can only imagine, but when you’re on the ship, you realize that this is real,” says Léa.
Highlights for her included seeing spaces that were not publicized through the public tours. An inside look at the ship courtesy of Canadian volunteer Riley Chow featured additional areas like the academy, chapel, engine control and radiology. “What surprised me the most was the idea that the ship is a small village,” reveals Léa.
Indeed, in addition to the academy and the chapel, there is a café, convenience store, hair salon and everything else that volunteers could need so that they never have to leave the ship!
Making an Impact
Léa left the Global Mercy feeling revitalized. She explains, “I was so happy about this experience and it motivates me even more to continue with Mercy Ships to do my job. Even if I’m not a volunteer in Africa, just working from home for Mercy Ships, I’m even more motivated after that experience because you get to see the real thing.”
Léa loves that she has found a place in the organization, despite lacking a medical background herself and not even being in the vicinity of the hospital during her day-to-day work.
“In any way, you can help. Even if you don’t see patients all the time, you can be involved,” says Léa. She continues, “Even me, I’m working remotly in France, I’m not moving from here and I just feel part of the impact and I’m happy with it. The mission is the most important for me.”
Written by: Riley Chow
There are opportunities on board to help Mercy Ships fulfill its mission to provide hope and healing to those who lack basic healthcare access.
If you would like to support our mission from home, please donate today. We encourage you to stay engaged by reading other volunteer stories which we post on a regular basis.
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