Mercy Ship's next trip to West Africa set to include Macarthur's Tara Norton

SET SAIL: Narellan Vale's Tara Norton is preparing to board the Mercy Ship in October.
SET SAIL: Narellan Vale's Tara Norton is preparing to board the Mercy Ship in October.

Macarthur’s Tara Norton is set to embark on a life-changing overseas trip.

The Narellan Vale resident and registered nurse will take part in the Mercy Ship’s next missionary journey to West Africa to provide crucial surgery for ill adults and children.

Ms Norton, who has 26 years’ of nursing experience, said she would take the 36-hour flight to Africa in October and would be based in Conakry, Guinea.

“I will be going on a floating hospital where we will have operating theatres, such as a paediatric clinic,” she said.

“Patients will be spend days travelling to get to the ship and we can offer them [children and adults] life-changing treatment.

“A particular problem is malnutrition in kids. Some have deformed limbs, their legs and arms are often bent backwards.

“We can correct their condition with surgery so they can live a normal life again.”

The Mercy Ship set sail for Guinea earlier this month and will remain there until June 2019.

A Mercy Ships Australia spokeswoman said Guinea was chosen because it was one of the least developed countries as ranked by the United Nations Development Index.

The spokeswoman said the average life expectancy of a Guinea resident was only 59 years.

Ms Norton will stay on the ship for five weeks of voluntary service as an admissions nurse.

She said she had wanted to undertake missionary work for more than two years and now was “the right time”.

“I have been applying with Mercy Ships for a few years but have had had to wait due to great interest from other people,” Ms Norton said.

“I feel like I’m proudly representing Macarthur over there and I have definitely been well supported by people I’ve spoken to about Mercy Ships.

“Everyone seems keen to know it goes and what stories I will have to tell when I get back.

“I’ve been on a cruise [holiday] before, but I’ve never done something like this – I couldn’t think of anywhere better to go.”