Yes, I Live on a Ship

Yes, I Live on a Ship

I guess it’s about time that I explain this a bit more, because I reference it all the time but it’s not exactly a normal thing to just mention off-hand. Living on a ship isn’t necessarily strange in itself, people have done so since some guy figured out that wood floated. What’s odd about my life is that I live on a hospital ship, one that doesn’t sail more than a few weeks out of the year.

The Africa Mercy in port in Freetown

OK, that didn’t explain much of anything. I’m currently a full-time volunteer with an organization called Mercy Ships. We may be best described as a mobile surgical unit, providing a variety of surgical procedures at no cost to some of the world’s poorest populations. We see some very extreme cases, and it’s a pretty massive endeavor as a whole.

You can see more photos of our patients in my review of our time in Sierra Leone. For the last year I worked as the Audio Visual Technician on board; a.k.a. professional nerd. This year I’m moving into a new role as our reception team leader, managing the team that acts as the public face of the ship as well as monitoring the central control point of our fire and security systems.

We were in Freetown, Sierra Leone last year, and for the next 6 months we’ll be in Lome, Togo. Togo is French-speaking, which is a lot of fun for me as I’m a former French major who taught English in France (which feels like ages ago). It’s also only 3 hours away from Accra, Ghana, which is huge because they have real movie theaters!!

Dolphins sighted while sailing

Most authors have day jobs of one sort or another, and this is mine. What makes it a bit different than most is that there are 400+ other people from 35 different nations on average living here at any given point. That’s not including the nearly 200 locals we employ to work with us. And one floor below where I sleep is a hospital. I guess that’s kind of weird too.

 Surgery

What’s difficult is living in a tin can with so many other people. What’s cool is the exposure to so many different cultures and ways of thinking, as well as seeing lives changed up close on an almost daily basis. Not to mention the fact that I’ve been in four different countries in Africa in just over a year, as well as a number in Europe. I’ve had a crazy experience so far, which you should check out if you get the time.

If you’re more curious, my blog jayonaboat.com covers my life here in more detail, though I’ve slacked off recently as there are too many things to write and so few fingers to type. And I got a cheap Chinese motorcycle that’s keeping me out in town a fair amount too… don’t tell my mom.

Motorcycle brake testing

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