MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT) -- A woman from East Tennessee traveled to West Africa to aid the poor for six months and is still there two years later.
Pam Campbell is a 42 year old health care administrator from Knoxville. In December 2011 she took a leave of absence from her work with a medical practice to serve onboard a hospital ship. Pam is the personal assistant to the ship’s Director of Medicine for the charity Mercy Ships.
Campbell says everyone thought she was crazy to leave family and career behind, especially when they learned that she’d be working for free and actually had to pay a room-and-board fee each month.
“They’re like, ‘You’re going to work and you’re paying them?’ I think that was the hardest thing for people to accept. But it’s been rewarding and paid off. I’m glad I did it.”
Campbell and her MV Africa Mercy crew mates are currently docked in Pointe Noire in the Republic of Congo. She says living and working in the same confined space can be a challenge, but the upside is that she has Africa for a back yard.
“There’s always stuff right near the port to do. You can just get out and walk all day. Sometimes we just go out to the beach, just go out to eat, just go for a walk through town…to the market.”
Campbell says the patients she meets are what inspired her to stay after her initial commitment was over. She recalls one African woman who walked for almost three months to reach the ship, hoping to be cured of a condition that made her a village outcast.
“She would walk for a couple days and a couple weeks, then she would stay with someone. Then she would walk a little bit further. It was just amazing that we were still in port by the time she got to us. We were able to treat her and then send her home and it was a successful surgery.”
Campbell says one of the best things about serving with Mercy Ships is the opportunity to live out her faith using the administrative job skills she already has.
You can learn more about Mercy Ships by visiting the ministry's website.
NOTE: WMOT News Director Mike Osborne and his wife, Karen, served as fulltime volunteers with Mercy Ships between 2004 and 2008. The couple lived and served onboard three different Mercy Ships floating hospitals between 2001 and 2008.