Single mom leaves Chilliwack for Africa Mercy
Kathryn Stock will be spending the first part of her empty nest years aboard a charity hospital ship in West Africa.
The 54-year-old Chilliwack resident will be starting a two-year journey this month on board the world's largest charity hospital ship, Africa Mercy, with Mercy Ships.
Stock will be heading up administration in the ophthalmology department.
The idea came to the single mother while watching her 17-year-old son start to develop his own life plans post graduation. Stock wanted an adventure of her own.
Africa was an easy choice.
Fourteen years ago, Stock, along with her now ex-husband and son, who was just three years old at the time, lived in Ghana for a year.
"I felt incredibly at peace there," she said. "The overall experience left an indelible imprint on my heart and my soul."
Africa Mercy docks for 10 months at a time in various countries, providing some of the poorest people in the world with free surgeries and developmental programs. They commonly treat huge goiters, cleft lip and palates, fistulas, bowed legs and other life-threatening conditions that in North America could easily be cured.
Stock recalls the extreme medical cases she saw while living in Ghana.
"The women and children tugged at my heartstrings, as did the disfigured people who somehow still managed to make their way around the villages and towns," she said.
"The thought of giving back to the people who meant so much to me seems incredible... an opportunity beyond measure."
While Stock, who will be taking a leave of absence from her position at Omega & Associates Engineering Ltd., won't be performing any of the medical procedures, she believes her administrative skills will be a huge benefit to those around her.
"I can't do much, but I can serve and support those that can," she said.
For 32 years Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at $834 million, impacting about 2.9 million people.
For more information, visit the website www.mercyships.ca.