BURLEY — A Declo woman who decided she needed to “walk the walk” as a Christian has signed up for two years as a volunteer teacher on board a ship designed to provide free medical care to an impoverished country.
Emilie Moore, 25, has been aboard the Africa Mercy for about two months, where she teaches the ship’s medical staff and crew’s children.
Her work allows other volunteers to spend more time on the ship because they are able to take their families with them.
Moore was a teacher at Paul Elementary School for two years before she signed up to teach on the Africa Mercy.
“When you look down on the dock and see the people who have received no medical care, it is mind boggling,” Moore said during a phone interview Monday with the Times-News.
Many of the conditions treated on the ship would have been immediately taken care of in the United States, Moore said.
“But untreated, they grow into something life-threatening here,” she said.
“Emilie teaches so that Africans can have free surgeries on the ship,” said Pauline Rick, a spokeswoman for Mercy Ships. “She enables volunteer families to serve so that their children can maintain their education while living on board. The Mercy Ships volunteers raise their own support to pay monthly crew fees to help cover room and board while donating their time and skills.”
The decision to become a volunteer teacher came from “a culmination of things,” that included an end to her teaching contract in Paul, her desire to travel and her wish live a Christian life, Moore said.
“It is such a blessing to be part of something bigger than myself,” she said.
The ship is currently docked at Douala, in the Republic of Cameroon, Africa. The ship will stay for 10 months in the port of Douala.
“Mercy Ships plans to provide 3,000 to 4,000 life-changing surgeries onboard the Africa Mercy hospital ship, to treat over 8,000 at a land-based dental clinic as well as providing healthcare training to local medical professionals,” Rick wrote.
Moore heard about the ship from a friend who had volunteered on it. Teaching small classes of students and a multi-cultural group appealed to her.
Moore teaches eight-, fourth- and fifth-graders, and she has students from the U.S., Holland, Australia and Brazil. There are 13 teachers on the ship and 44 students from more than 10 countries.
As she fulfills a background role to the ship’s mission, she is able to teach her students what it means to live a good life.
“I’m also getting to work with these children who are growing up in this unusual role,” she said.
The ship’s crew includes medical personnel, the captain and deck hands as well as the people who prepare food and people fulfilling numerous other roles.
The volunteers receive no pay for their service, and the monthly crew fee they pay is based on the length of service they sign up for.
Moore’s monthly fee is $525, which comes from her savings and a sponsorship from her church.
At 6 feet 4 inches tall, Moore said adapting to life on a ship is interesting.
“When I first got here I thought I was going to hit my head on one of the sprinklers and cause a flood,” she said.
The berths where they sleep can have anywhere from four to 10 bunks. Moore’s berth has four bunks and a 10-foot-by-10-foot sitting room.
“I don’t really feel claustrophobic, though,” she said.
The ship sails from only 10 to 30 days out of the year, and the rest of the time it is in port.
“I can’t believe I am part of this,” Moore said. “I get to live what I say I believe.”