February 23, 2016

Mercy Ships: Preparing to Say Goodbye

international travel nursing on medical mission

It is officially my last week here in Madagascar, and as expected, it is bittersweet. I am so excited to go home and see my friends and family, but I am so sad to leave the friends that I have made here, the patients, and just Madagascar in general. I did an exit interview today and was asked about my time here, how I have been affected by my experience, and how I will deal with transitioning back to “normal life.”

The strange thing is, I never felt out of place since arriving on the ship. I felt like I just fell into place and took off running. I expected to feel homesick at the beginning but never did. With every assignment I have had, the first few weeks I am always homesick (even when I’m in the same state), but here I am on the other side of the world and in a sense, I feel at home.

Transitioning back will definitely be a struggle, but at this point, I can’t really see how much until I actually get home. I cannot begin to describe how my time here in Madagascar has affected me, partly because I don’t think I will fully understand the impact it has had as soon as I walk off the ship. It may take days, weeks, or even years. I have had countless moments that I will never forget, like watching the teenage boy look in the mirror, giving Arlene hand lotion, Rosette holding my hands, reading Natacha’s note and so many more. I will say that coming here I didn’t realize that as I was helping impact the lives of the people here in Madagascar, they would impact mine just as much if not more.

I am hoping these next few days will be just as amazing as I have been asked to donate blood for a patient having surgery tomorrow, and I will get to observe surgery on Friday.

In May 2014, Travel Nurse Across America (TNAA) announced a partnership with Mercy Ships, as part of its ongoing philanthropic activities. TNAA sponsored four nurses to volunteer on a healthcare delivery mission in Africa. Mercy Ships, a global charity organization, uses ships – floating hospitals – to provide free surgery and dental care in impoverished countries. Mercy Ships has been in operation since 1978. The nurses sponsored by TNAA worked for eight weeks each on the African mercy ship docked in Cotonou, Benin. Follow the TNAA blog for Mercy Ships updates.