Meet the Crew from Chilliwack

22 September 2015

Our Canadian volunteers come from near and far, small cities, large cities, even a few towns that are hard to find on the map! Over the past two years our alumni has been growing in the city of Chilliwack, British Columbia and we would like to highlight the good work and commitment of six lovely Chilliwackians!

Nelleke Kerkhoff

Nelleke has been volunteering on and off as a Nurse with Mercy Ships since 2008. Coming from a family of 8 with 23 nieces and nephews, Nelleke knows what it is like to be a part of a big family. After researching Mercy Ships in 2008 Nelleke was immediately attracted to the experience and soon found a second big family onboard! 

“I signed up for two months, which I thought was a really long time, and convinced my cousin to join me. We boarded the ship in August 2008 and ended up staying for 4 ½ months!”

Kathryn Stock

Kathryn lived onboard the Africa Mercy as a long term crew member for around four years! As the Ophthalmic Team Supervisor, Stock oversaw a group of ophthalmic specialists in providing eye care, glasses and surgeries, primarily for cataracts and pterygiums.

Many children are born with cataracts in both eyes and have never seen.  When that is corrected, there is sensory overload at first, and then we can literally watch them as they ‘learn to see’ – it is a remarkable and breathtaking experience

Shanna Fortnum

Shanna worked onboard the Africa Mercy for five months.  The 19 year-old stylist followed in the footsteps of the ship’s previous two hairdressers who hail from Calgary, Alberta and Guelph, Ontario. Shanna did not know Mercy Ships needed professionals outside the medical field until Kathryn Stock returned to Chilliwack from the ship and spoke about her experience.

“A thought popped into my mind. I will check the website and see what else is needed. So I did. And 30 seconds after tears came down my cheeks. Under ‘urgent’ in bright red letters was ‘Hairstylist’”

Marlayna Van Hoepen

19-year-old Marlayna very recently returned from the Africa Mercy where she worked as a cook onboard for three months. Marlayna had many life changing moments including meeting 60-year-old Sambany, a patient who had his 16.46lb facial tumour removed.

My experience on the ship has changed my life, Africa will forever hold a place in my heart and I will be back

Emma Van Hoepen

Emma, the most recent and at age 18 the youngest was inspired by youth in her community and her older sister Marlayna to follow in her footsteps and volunteer as a cook onboard for three months also.

My sister had a great experience and inspired me a lot, I’ve also done a few short term missions which I’ve enjoyed greatly

We are very grateful for these wonderful ladies, their dedication and the difference they have made in so many people’s lives. Check back for more short bios on our Canadian crew as our 2015-2016 field service in Madagascar continues.

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