Sarnia teen will join hospital ship off coast of West Africa in February

sophia kooy1It may be a while before Sophia Kooy is back in her home town of Sarnia.

But it won’t be a boring 2015 for the young lady whose aspirations include being a medical doctor.

Beginning in February, Kooy, who went to grades 9 and 10 at Ecole Secondaire St. Francois Xavier before switching to London District Christian Secondary School for her grades 11 and 12, will be serving as a hospitality hostess on the world’s largest private hospital ship, the Africa Mercy.

She returns in May and will be attending McMaster University next fall.

“I’m very excited,” said Kooy via e-mail (she is visiting family in Europe). “I heard about the Mercy Ships project through a local surgeon, Dr. Joan Ross, whom I met after a presentation she gave on her experience on the ship.”

Dr. Ross had made the presentation at Lakeshore Community Church in Bright’s Grove.

“The stories of healing and the pictures she showed during the presentation had a very strong effect on me, something that had always seemed so far away to me was now at my fingertips.”

When Dr. Ross told her story of the joy of patients being able to recover aboard the ship, Kooy was inspired to take the next step.

“I saw myself being part of it. I want to be a part of their mission of healing and bringing Jesus’ love, be it only in a small way, and be able to give of whatever I can. I also want to learn the reality of what is going on away from home so that I can continue my education with a broader horizon.”

Kooy says her ultimate goal is to become a doctor, although at this point she is not sure what area she intends to specialize.

africa mercy“The intricacies of the human body fascinate me immensely, as well as the different approaches there are to treating various ailments,” she adds. “The element of human interaction and being able to alleviate suffering as much as possible are also things to which I can imagine myself dedicating my life. Being on the Mercy Ship is also a way for me to learn more about the medical field and to perhaps strengthen how I feel about entering the practice myself.”

Kooy is being financially assisted by the Rotary Club of Sarnia, which has provided a $500 grant to help with the expenses of her trip. She needs to raise a total of $3,500, a requirement for all volunteer crew members.

Her work on the Africa Mercy will be as part of a team of doctors, surgeons and support crew that together provide care for people without access to medical services. Treatment includes treating facial disfigurement, excising tumours, restoring sight and caring for teeth.

Anyone wishing to support Sophia Kooy’s work on the Africa Mercy can make a donation by clicking here.

More information on the work of Mercy Ships can be found at www.mercyships.ca

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