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Daniela Neves is service coordination manager at Consilium. In autumn 2019, she temporarily switched to volunteer work for the Mercy Ships Foundation in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, inspired by colleagues who had previously been volunteers. As you will see, her daily work was still to do with service and support, but of a different kind than at Consilium.

Hi Daniela, when did you get back from the trip?

I returned to Sweden in January 2020. The original plan was to stay on board for three months, but it eventually became four months.

Can you tell us about the ship?

The ship is called the Africa Mercy. It’s a hospital ship with highly professional surgery and care units, as well as access to nursery school, school for pupils up to the age of 17, a library, a gym, a barbershop, laundry facilities and a coffee shop. It’s a community of its own where you really feel at home.

Why did you become a volunteer?

I first heard about Mercy Ships in December 2015 when they were visiting Consilium. Only ten minutes into their talk, I realized I wanted to volunteer for Mercy Ships. They’re a relief organization that makes a difference and that I wanted to be a part of. After discovering that you don’t need a medical background, I just knew I had to apply.

What was a typical day on board like?

I was part of the housekeeping team. Our primary duties were to keep the ship clean and tidy. The team was a mix of crew and day crew, and they welcomed me immediately. Even though the job was hard and heavy, I loved it and looked forward to the next day at work. There was a lot of singing and dancing in the corridors while mopping the floors. On Fridays, we all dressed up in our colourful uniforms. It was a privilege to be part of that team.

Did you have time to discover Dakar?

Yes. Dakar is a big city with a lot of markets, colonial architecture, magnificent beaches, forests and deserts. I always made sure to have a trip planned during the weekends. Goree Island, Saly and Thies are among the many areas I visited.

What have you learned so far?

I’ve learned so many things. For example, Mercy Ships provide so much more than free surgical health care. They also serve the nations by building their healthcare through capacity building programmes. The nations are then able to continue the work even long after the ship has left the country. No matter where we come from, if we all aim for the same goals and encourage each other, we can achieve wonderful things together.

Finally, tell us about the fire detection system!

Well, the Africa Mercy didn’t have a Consilium system… but the next ship from the Mercy Ships will have a system from us. As I work in the after-sales department, I’m sure I’ll be involved in coordinating the service visits of our service engineers onboard.

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