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On January 3rd, 30+ volunteers met at a guest house in Antananarivo, Madagascar to finish our journey to the Africa Mercy. Many of us had issues with our last connecting flight to get to Antananarivo (Tana), so we were all eager to finally get to the boat. The last leg of our trip was an 8-hour bus ride during which we were able to see Madagascar. In a lot of ways Tana reminded me of Costa Rica where I have done previous mission work, with similar looking houses, people washing their clothes in lakes/rivers, and especially the traffic. On the way we stopped at a local restaurant where we got the chance to sit outside and enjoy the scenery as we ate our lunch, which also gave us the opportunity to get to know our “bus family.” Once we reached the boat I think the majority of us newbies were shocked at how big the boat actually is, and our excitement and some nerves started to kick in. When we got on the boat we went through a quick check-in process and were escorted to our cabins. We were welcomed by our bunkmates with personalized signs on each of our doors.
I will be working on Ward B which is a women’s services ward that deals with VVF (Vesico-Vaginal Fistula). As a telemetry nurse I am not very familiar with women’s services, but I am excited to step out of my comfort zone and learn as much as possible over the next 8 weeks. After being discharged from the ward, most of the women go to the OBF (Obstetric Fistula) clinic, where they stay for another 1-2 weeks. Once discharged from the OBF clinic, they have a dress ceremony where the women dress up in new jewelry, makeup and accessories and celebrate the success of their surgeries. I cannot wait to attend this ceremony and see these beautiful ladies that I get the privilege of caring for celebrate this life-changing event.