Meet our International Crew: Harriet Gall

Africa Mercy

Australian Harriet Gall could be considered “the hostess with the mostest,” as Harriet’s background unveils a woman with many talents. From primary school teacher to adult instructor, with passions in safety, outdoor skills and survival, this “hostess” can probably handle – or teach – almost anything.

At her usual day job back home in Australia, she’s the Aviation Safety Instructor for a major airline, educating pilots and aircraft crew in everything they need to know about emergency situations, including security, fires, depressurizations, survival, evacuation and more. So how did Harriet end up working in the hospitality department on a hospital ship in West Africa?

Harriet Gall

“My job back at home offers a three-month service leave after 10 years, so I was looking for something to do. When I saw the 60 Minutes Surgery Ship documentary about Mercy Ships, I thought, ‘That’s what I need to do!’ – and it all just fell together.”

Harriet browsed through the broad range of job descriptions online – medical and non-medical, all with different lengths of service. She decided to do something a bit unrelated to her field of work, yet would still fit her personality well. “I love working with people, and I thought this would be a great job where I’d see a really diverse range of activities as well as people in the community on board the ship. I also wanted insight into all the different departments that make up the ship.” The hostess position required six months of service, so she applied, using the rest of her personal holiday time to make up the difference.

Teaching, one of Harriet’s many talents, still comes in handy as she orients new crew members: “I take pride in trying to make people feel welcome and immediately comfortable being on board the ship. A lot of people come from a long way…they’ve spent months if not years preparing to come on board. It can be a very emotional time, so I want them to fit in and feel comfortable as quickly as possible. If I can facilitate that for them, I think it’s a huge part of my role.”

With the majority of Harriet’s day-to-day focused on the crew, patient interactions still happen in other ways. During routine tours of the ship, she guides new crew through the hospital wards, a place where some of her fondest memories have been made. “During ship tours, we walk the length of ship, down past the hospital wards. More often than not there are young children, all bandaged up with different conditions, smiling and laughing. Most times, you get a big “Bonsoir!!” and a smile and a high five. That’s definitely the highlight of my day.”

What would Harriet say to someone thinking of signing up with Mercy Ships? “Don’t even think – just come – 100%!” She adds, “There are so many people here, serving out of love. Every single person on this ship is beautiful. They find the good in things, and everyone generally goes out of their way to help each other.”

And Harriet’s no different. Thank you Harriet, for sharing your remarkable self with every crew member you meet.

volunteer Florence Bangura

The Woman Who Forged Her Way Through Walls: Florence Bangura’s Story

Florence’s journey from oldest to newest Mercy Ship came full circle when she met the Global Mercy™ in 2023, the same year that the purpose-built hospital ship began welcoming its patients on board. Today, you can find Florence, now 49 years old, down in the engine room as a hotel engineering assistant.

Dr Austin Demby

Transforming Sierra Leone’s Healthcare: A Vision for Safe and Affordable Surgery

As experts from the surgical and healthcare world gather for the 64th Annual Conference and Scientific Meeting of the West African College of Surgeons in Sierra Leone this week, a profound dedication to advancing surgical knowledge and practice in the region is palpable. At the forefront of discussions lies the conference’s pivotal theme: access to safe and affordable surgical and anesthetic care in West Africa. This theme highlights the pressing need to address disparities in healthcare capabilities and capacities across the region, especially the critical importance of equitable access to quality surgical interventions.

Mission Madagascar

The Africa Mercy Arrives in Madagascar to Bring Hope and Healing Anew

Freshly refitted hospital ship, the upgraded Africa Mercy® has arrived at the island nation to build on the charity’s longstanding collaboration and will provide specialized surgeries in various fields, including maxillofacial and ear nose and throat, general, pediatric specialized general, pediatric orthopedic, cataract surgery, and reconstructive plastics. 

Patient Vanya

Reuniting with Vanya, Years After Surgery

In 2015, in an operating room on board the Africa Mercy while docked in Madagascar, the course of Vanya’s life changed.
Years have now passed since Vanya’s journey toward healing. In the time since, her improved ability to walk allowed her to return to school, where she loved studying environmental science and learning about the world around her.

Related Posts