Tradie helping effort in Senegal

Waimate man Edmund Rooke on the job with Mercy Ships in the African nation of Senegal. PHOTO:...
Waimate man Edmund Rooke on the job with Mercy Ships in the African nation of Senegal. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
It is a fair distance from Waimate to Senegal, so it is probably just as well tradie Edmund Rooke loves what he does.

The 25-year-old South Canterbury man is working a 20-week stint in the African nation on a vessel with Mercy Ships, assisting plumbers and the hospital vessel's vehicle mechanic to ensure everything on board is shipshape.

Mercy Ships, an international charity, provides free life-saving surgeries for people in nations where medical care is limited or non-existent.

The important role that Mr Rooke, who started with the organisation on June 8, and his fellow tradies play will be recognised today, as part of National Tradies Day, despite the former being thousands of kilometres away.

He said the tradies on board have a healthy sense of being part of the larger Mercy Ships team.

"I love that when I go to work, I know I am doing something that really matters and means something. I'm not working for money and to be able to do a job that helps out in a higher cause can be immensely rewarding. My service with Mercy Ships gives me a chance to use the skills and abilities I have to make a difference."

Mercy Ships communications manager Sharon Walls said tradies were not at the front of many people's minds when they thought of the work the organisation did.

A team of electricians maintained electricity generators that powered the hospital, the ship's galley, crew accommodation and public areas.

Plumbers maintained pipes throughout the ship, which involved a combination of hospital and domestic maintenance, and trouble-shooting.

Electronics technicians maintained machines and equipment such as fire detection systems, fuel purifiers, cranes, mains distribution switchboards, medical air monitoring systems and marine electronics.

Diesel mechanics ensured a fleet of 24 off-road vehicles allowed medical teams to travel to screen people in communities which did not have access to essential surgery.

Ms Walls said tradies would be treated to mark the day.

"We have arranged a smoko shout on board the hospital ship in Senegal to highlight Tradie Day and celebrate the contribution of tradies on board.

"Tradies are often pretty low-key people so we thought giving them a shout-out would encourage them as well as raise the profile of the important contribution the trades make in a mission like Mercy Ships."

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