Dunchurch nurse to embark on mission of Mercy to help poor in Cameroon - The Rugby Observer

Dunchurch nurse to embark on mission of Mercy to help poor in Cameroon

Andy Morris 25th Sep, 2017 Updated: 25th Sep, 2017   0

A NURSE from Dunchurch will leave her home, family and job behind for two months to bring life-saving healthcare to the ‘forgotten poor’ of Cameroon.

Val Muir, 63, will serve as a volunteer outpatients nurse on board The Africa Mercy – the world’s largest charity-run hospital ship – during its ten-month stay in central Africa.

She will spend October and November as a key part of the 400-strong crew which is providing over 3,000 free, safe surgeries to people in desperate need.

Her day-to-day job working for the Mercy Ships charity will involve looking after people from across Cameroon who have already had surgery.

She will provide wound care, take blood samples, teach people how to look after wounds, monitor nutritional status, explain how to take medications and offer physical, mental and spiritual support.

Val, who worked in a community heart failure specialist team before semi-retiring in 2014, had previously donated to Mercy Ships. But after meeting a woman who had served onboard, she was inspired to apply and “instead of just talking, do something positive”.

She says she has finally found her calling after working in a variety of nursing jobs including surgical nurse, with a heart-failure service, as a health promotion adviser in a young offenders’ prison, and as a midwife in Saudi Arabia.

She said: “I always seemed to be searching for something different. With all my diverse experience I hoped I could bring something to the people of Cameroon they might value.

“The term ‘forgotten poor’ makes me incredibly sad. But it feels to me that this will be the end of my nursing journey, as I have now found what I am looking for and don’t think I will be searching anymore.”

She said she was sure this was the job for her, and was prepared to take a kitchen or housekeeping role on The Africa Mercy if there were no nursing jobs.

“I just felt I could and wanted to give something back to those who need it most,” she said. “I admit I was shocked and felt very humbled when I was accepted, as I thought there must be so many people wanting to do this work so they probably won’t choose me.”

Val currently works part time for an agency caring for prostitutes, drug addicts and alcoholics, and she has developed a strong empathy for the clients. She also attends local Catholic churches Bilton Sacred Heart and St Marie’s Catholic Church in Rugby, and volunteers for their Winter Shelter which helps the homeless during the harsh winter months.

Val added: “I feel OK about living with strangers. We will all be in the same boat – no pun intended! – and hopefully all of one mind. I love meeting new like-minded people, which is why I value working in a team.

“Living in such close proximity will be a challenge, but I am taking a good supply of ear plugs for myself and others if they need them!

“I lived on an oil tanker many years ago when I was first married and you can get stir crazy being in cramped conditions with others, so it’s important to keep busy and upbeat and positive.”

Mercy Ships’ floating hospital The Africa Mercy comprises five operating theatres, a radiography suite with a scanner and X-ray machines, a laboratory and a hospital ward with 82 beds. The ship takes the highest standards of surgical practice to some of the poorest countries in the world where safe, affordable, timely healthcare is either unavailable or unaffordable.

Visit www.mercyships.org.uk for more information, or to donate.


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