Creating New Connections: Mercy Ships Canada and the Francophone Nursing Community

Nurses' congress at Sidief
During the Congress, our four collaborators gave a 90-minute presentation on the theme of "Being a nurse on board a hospital ship".

In October 2022, Mercy Ships Canada had the privilege of participating in the 8th World Conference of SIDIIEF (Secrétariat international des infirmiers et infirmières de l’espace francophone).

SIDIIEF is a non-profit organization whose mission is to create, mobilize and animate a high-level global francophone nursing network that collectively reflects on major health issues. As an international reference body, SIDIIEF facilitates the sharing of nursing experience and knowledge within the French-speaking nursing community in order to contribute to the development of health and the improvement of care offered to populations, and to enable the profession to reach the full potential of its field of practice.

At this conference, we were able to represent the French-speaking nursing community of Mercy Ships by inviting four volunteer nurses who have already served on board our hospital ships. Céline Léger (Quebec, Canada), Sangavi Shanmuganathan and Christine Oppliger (Switzerland) and Karine Gabali (France), joined our team to meet the nursing community and share their passion for their profession and their involvement with Mercy Ships patients.

Inspiring Their Peers

At the Congress, our four collaborators gave a 90-minute presentation on “Being a nurse on a hospital ship”. This session provided an opportunity to present what our volunteer nurses live for but also to interact with the audience and hear their pertinent questions and interest in the NGO’s nursing practices.

For Sangavi, a nurse and Master’s student in Health Science, who is focusing her research on humanitarian health organizations, her involvement as a volunteer on board the Africa Mercy allowed her to go further in her understanding. Sharing her experience as both a volunteer and a researcher was rewarding. She noticed that,

“Many nurses aspire to have a humanitarian experience in their lives and feel drawn to Mercy Ships.”

Passionate about her experience as a nurse anesthetist, Karine is pleased to have been able to represent Mercy Ships,

“This sharing has brought me out of my shell and allowed me to communicate my passion for humanitarian work.”

Having just returned from her service on board, Christine is enjoying her participation as a Mercy Ships representative.

“Sharing with Mercy Ships volunteers as well as with people who had never heard of the organization allowed me to reflect on the experience. To be able to share more about a special experience that I enjoyed immensely was a real pleasure.”

The oldest of our volunteers, Céline Léger, who served on board three times, speaks of her experience:

“First of all, it is always a privilege to represent a cause that makes people happy, to pique their curiosity about the model presented and to make them see the possibility of doing the same. Sharing in large numbers or individually has had as much impact on me in my opinion as it has on others. In the sense that I received as much as others could receive by witnessing their positive responses.”

Joining Forces Towards Global Health

Volunteer Doctor Agbessi
Dr. Agbessi teaching on board the Global Mercy as part of the medical capacity building program, Senegal. © Mercy Ships

Mercy Ships Canada wanted to build bridges with SIDIIEF to pool our efforts in training health professionals, knowing that the impact of adequate training and investment in medical expertise is significant in reducing health inequalities in developing countries.

That is why Mercy Ships facilitated a 3.5 hour educational event on “Perioperative Care” for nursing professionals working on the African continent.

The guest trainer via videoconference, Dr. Odry Agbessi, is a plastic reconstructive surgeon in Benin and a valued collaborator with medical capacity building program with Mercy Ships. Participation in this training led to a continuing education certificate validated by the Institut et Haute École de la Santé La Source in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Mercy Ships Canada looks forward to working with SIDIIEF again in the future and contributing together to create health for populations.

Discover the story of a volunteer nurse, a member of SIDIIEF, who served on board the Africa Mercy here.

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