Stotfold woman makes a difference in Africa
A 24-YEAR-OLD Cambridge University graduate from Stotfold has helped hundreds of some of the world’s poorest people as part of an African mercy mission.
Stephanie May is halfway through a two year volunteering stint with Mercy Ships, an international Christian hospital ship charity that provides free medical care to poverty stricken regions of West Africa.
Miss May, who volunteers as a medical technician, said: “When we got to Togo and came into dock there was a commotion.
“There were various churches and people who came out to meet us who were singing and playing instruments which was pretty cool.
“But it did make it pretty hard for the captain to speak to people when they got in the way.”
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The ship, Africa Mercy, is the world’s largest non-military charity ship and is staffed entirely by volunteers who help provide important surgery as well as spiritual assistance.
Miss May, who has a degree in bio-engineering helped to clean and maintain all of the surgical equipment that is essential to the mission.
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However she has also offered spiritual and physical support in a detention centre for minors, who were incarcerated for a variety of misdemeanours, ranging from theft to serious sexual harassment.
She said: “It was just about, for them, coping with the reality of being in a detention centre.
“Because of what we do with Mercy Ships we do talk and provide as much as we can there.
“We also provide a lot of support with things like clean towels which stop the spread of disease.
“It’s a government facility but it’s not funded by the government they have to raise the money themselves.”
The Africa Mercy is a converted Danish rail ferry is staffed by volunteers from over 50 nations ranging from seamen, engineers, surgeons and doctors who all pay crew fees for the time they serve abroad.
She paid �18,000 out of her own pocket to take part in the mission to Benin and Togo which was partly funded by the Baldock Rotary Club.
Miss May said: “I’m thankful for the opportunity to begin to understand the difficulties and the challenges faced by people in Africa and just to understand their way of life.”
She will return to the ship shortly and will sail to Sierra Leone, a country ravaged by civil war.
Miss May said: “It’s going to be interesting, Sierra Leone is very poor a lot more so than Benin and Togo.”