Ben Woollard, co-founder of Sheffield-based consultancy Authentic Recruitment, will be leaving corporate shores to spend time on a floating hospital docked in Madagascar.
Along with his wife Amanda, Ben will be volunteering aboard the world’s largest civilian hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, which is run by international charity Mercy Ships to deliver free medical care and humanitarian aid to the world’s forgotten poor.
Ben is convinced that running a successful business shouldn’t have to stop you pursuing other dreams, indeed entrepreneurship should enable a holistic lifestyle.
For three months, Ben will be swapping his director’s hat for a chef’s apron as he will be working in the ship’s kitchens preparing food for fellow volunteers and medical crew. He will also have the opportunity to be part of the humanitarian projects that take place on the mainland in Madagascar. His wife Amanda, who is an A&E Nurse at Sheffield’s Northern General, will be volunteering within the nursing team on board.
Because of the time difference and internet connection on board Ben will keep in contact with his colleagues from his cabin on the floating hospital– although he’s unsure if candidates will make the journey out there to be interviewed by him!
Ben said: “As far as my business is concerned, I believe that clients want to work with people who see the bigger picture and use their success to benefit the wider community.
“It’s a privilege to be part of this project and I hope this inspires other business leaders and entrepreneurs to do the same.”
Amanda said: “This is a culmination of a long held dream, I look forward to using my nursing skills and bringing back new expertise to Sheffield.”
Judy Polkinhorn, executive director of Mercy Ships UK, said: “Our volunteers are the lifeline of the ship – without them we wouldn’t be able to do the work we do. I would like to wish Ben and Amanda all the very best for their time on the Africa Mercy.”
The ship is just about to arrive in Madagascar, where over 90% of the population lives on just 75p a day. With regards to healthcare, there are only two physicians and three hospital beds available for every 10,000 people, and therefore the situation is rather desperate.
The Africa Mercy was converted from a Danish rail ferry into a state-of-the-art hospital ship. It is staffed by up to 400 volunteers from 40 different nations – including surgeons and nurses, cooks and engineers – who pay for the privilege to work and provide free medical service to Madagascar’s population of 22 million, in addition to carrying out mentoring and training programmes in the local villages.