Merlyn Joseph may not be a household name.
But she should be.
The Newcastle-based nurse spent two months last year displaying her skills on board of a Mercy Ship called “Africa Mercy” off the West Coast of Africa (see video).
Miss Joseph then shared some of her experiences as the guest speaker for the Singleton Anglican Church group before 100 captivated listeners on Friday night.
“I’m really blown away by those who were also able to share their stories in Singleton as well; they were all truly amazing to meet tonight,” Miss Joseph told the Singleton Argus.
Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries since 1978, providing services valued at more than $1.53 billion with more than 2.71 million direct beneficiaries.
“Mercy Ships have been a part of my life for the past seven years from the first concept of wanting to volunteer,” she added.
“I was approved to take part by the end of 2013 and was ready to go ahead however my father passed away in 2014 so I was unable to pursue the role then.”
Thankfully, she was finally able to call one of these floating hospitals home in 2017.
Her 16,500 ton Africa Mercy was docked off the Beninese port city of Cotonou (population of 679,012).
“Specialist surgeons were able to fly in and out to the ship after a week while nurses like myself had to be on board for the compulsory minimum eight weeks,” she explained.
When she shed light on her some of her patients, their deformities and, in some cases, the ostracisation from their African communities; some Singleton locals gasped with despair.
The presentation proved informative nonetheless when delving from general medical and dental procedures to the specifics of Maxillofacial and Ophthalmis surgeries.
Prior to her well documented experience last year the guest speaker had also served on mission trips in Mozambique, India, Cuba and Mexico.
And such was the Hunter Hospital nurse’s modesty that she failed to inform the crowd of her expertise in urology, cardio-thoracic, infection control, gerontology including dementia, depression (and mental health), endocrinology, palliative care, infectious diseases, midwifery and management.
“(As for the next generation of Mercy Ship nurses) I’d say just be kind and thoughtful and considerate to anyone whether they are family members or work colleagues,” she said.
“When you get the opportunity to serve on the ship it’s a great opportunity you’re never going to regret it.”
While continuing as a ward nurse at Newcastle’s John Hunter hospital the Indian born role model now looks to return to Africa.
“It looks like Senegal this time,” she added.