Mercy Ships a significant experience for Aida

Registered nurse Aida Oakdon
June 20, 2017

Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) Registered Nurse Aida Oakdon sees volunteering as a way of putting herself in someone else’s shoes and challenging her fears.

Aida put this sentiment into action when she completed a short stint aboard Mercy Ships (external link) in April. Docked off the coast of West Africa, the ship is the world’s largest charity hospital providing free health care to poor and underprivileged communities.

Aida has always volunteered but mostly in the Philippines.

“I volunteered for the post-typhoon relief, where I taught basic hygiene to the children in remote villages and cared for the elderly in one of the aged care facilities.”

“I heard about Mercy Ships ten years ago when I was a student nurse. Since then, it has always been my goal to save enough money to volunteer,” Aida said.

Although very driven, she was initially apprehensive about going to West Africa.

“I didn’t know what to expect of the Benin people and I was a little concerned about my safety.”

During her stint, however, she found the experience outweighed her concerns.

“The patients were polite, brave, humble and always smiling. They were very accepting and embracing of us, just as much as we were of them,” Aida reflected.

“Many of the patients I saw had been without care for a long time due to a lack of adequate and affordable medical care.

“It was a life-changing experience. My future lies in volunteering - in any capacity I can, whether it’s local or abroad.”

Aida is already thinking about her next Mercy Ships trip for next year.