32-year-old Dental Hygienist, April MacDougall, has returned from volunteering with Mercy Ships onboard the world’s largest charity hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, in Cotonou, Benin. MacDougall paid her own way to live and work amongst 400 international crew members all giving their time to provide free life-changing healthcare to thousands in need.
MacDougall was born and raised in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and has been working as a Dental Hygienist for seven years. Her previous volunteer experience includes working with Operation Mobilization in Moldova and New Tribes Missions in Papua New Guinea.
“I was looking for an opportunity to travel and use my skills in dental hygiene at the same time. My aunt had told me about Mercy ships a few years ago and I looked it up online and applied” says MacDougall.
The Africa Mercy and her crew spend an average of 10 months in each country visited. The vessel is equipped with five state-of-the-art operating rooms and is a fully modern hospital specializing in maxillofacial, reconstructive, plastics, orthopaedic, ophthalmic, dental and obstetric fistula surgeries. MacDougall worked at the off-ship dental clinic, where lines in the hundreds form each day around 6AM.
“Seeing the culture, meeting new people, being challenged by the dental work and providing care for those in need, it was all an incredible experience” recalls MacDougall.
In addition to providing dental care to patients at the Dental Clinic, Mercy Ships volunteers visit inmates at the local prison. This is part of the Dental Outreach Program as inmates are not able to get to the Dental Clinic to receive care. Since August 2015, 3,853 dental procedures have been performed by volunteers like MacDougall.
Mercy Ships has an urgent need for dental hygienists for the remainder of the 2016-2017 field service in Benin. To apply visit: www.mercyships.org/volunteer
About Mercy Ships
Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care services, capacity building and sustainable development to those without access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1 billion, with more than 2.35 million direct beneficiaries. Each year Mercy Ships has more than 1,200 volunteers from over 40 nations. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, health care trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. Mercy Ships seeks to become the face of love in action, bringing hope and healing to the poor. For more information click on www.mercyships.ca