You might think that the last thing that Linda Christiansen, a volunteer nurse from the USA, wants to do when it’s outside work hours and she is tired, or it’s her day off, would be go back to the hospital on board the Africa Mercy, and work some more with the patients, but that’s exactly what she is compelled to do.
Along with another nurse Linda handles patient admissions for new arrivals when they come to receive a free surgery on board the hospital ship. She must make sure that each patient is healthy enough to be operated on without major risk to their life. It’s quite a responsible position and she must make sure the ward doctor and the surgeons are aware of any medical condition affecting the patients’ health and any potential risks.
But after work instead of going out and about, or returning to her cabin to rest, Linda recharges her batteries by going back and work at her second job. You see many of the patients have never been to school and don’t know how to read and write. So for a few hours Linda becomes a primary school teacher helping patients to learn to read and write as well as basic mathematics.
No one is forcing Linda to do it, but rather it’s a little project started by an admissions nurse some years ago that has become a bit of a tradition passed on from one admissions nurse to another. So what would Linda say if we asked her if she feels like she is being exploited, “Absolutely Not! Quite the opposite!”, and if you could see the laughter that comes from the ward, and the big smile on Linda’s face as she teaches the patients you would have to believe her.