An HPU assistant professor of nursing volunteered her services
this summer during a Southeast Asia medical mission aboard
the USNS Mercy, a U.S. Navy hospital ship. Mercy Mott spent
a little more than a month overseas helping residents of
a few small Indonesian islands and Bangladesh. She calls
it a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
The entire mission, which ran from the end of May to the
beginning of September, was divided into three phases. Mott
volunteered for the second phase, which took her to Chittagong
in Bangladesh, Simeulue Island, Nias Island, and Banda Aceh
Mott said a team of doctors prescreened patients in the different
locations prior to the actual mission to see who would benefit
most from the medical attention. She said that during the
mission, she and the rest of the medical team performed minor
surgeries on land as well as others aboard the ship. In each
place they visited, there were hundreds of people who stood
in line in hopes of receiving medical treatment.
A patient told us that he walked for two days when he heard
the Mercy was coming,” said Mott. “He, fortunately,
was one of the patients taken on board to have a surgery.”
She said the residents of those countries needed everything,
from the most simple immunizations and dental care to surgeries.
Mott explained that the most common procedures requested
were cleft lip and palate repair, thyroid removal, and gynecological
Mott participated in the USNS Mercy mission through the Aloha
Medical Mission (AMM), a non-profit volunteer organization
in Honolulu that aims to provide free health care to underserved
people in Hawai‘i and developing countries.
Dr. Carl Lum, an AMM member of 17 years, said he decided
to write to the USNS Mercy mission coordinators after the
AMM heard about the mission. The AMM was then invited to
participate in the USNS Mercy mission. Lum said that he generally
goes on about four missions a year. During the USNS Mercy
mission, Lum and other AMM volunteers were able to work with
the military, which is something they don’t normally
do on their other missions.
The military culture is quite different from what we experience
on our missions, but nevertheless, it was interesting and
an exciting adventure,” said Lum.
Despite having to sleep on a 24-inch wide bunk bed and climbing
11 flights of stairs to get to the dining area from their
sleeping area, Mott said she had a very touching and memorable
experience overseas. She said that they could still see the
devastating effects of the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia
about two years ago, but that people seemed to be coping
and trees seemed to be growing again.
We flew over beautiful white sand beaches and lush vegetations.
We landed in an open field and children came running toward
us in spite of efforts by the ground crew to keep them away,” said
Mott of her helicopter ride to a remote part of Simeulue
Island. “I’m sure it was a nightmare for the
Mott is a Clinical Nurse Educator at Tripler Army Medical
Center, teaching nursing students from schools such as Hawai‘i
Pacific University and Kapiolani Community College.
She said that she would like to go on another mission, but
can’t afford to do so at this time since each volunteer
must cover their own expenses. Until she saves up the $2,000
she budgets per mission, Mott said she enjoys sharing her
USNS Mercy experience with her nursing students.
Up until that time, Vietnam was just another foreign country
to me, although my youngest brother served in that war,” said
Mott. “Landing in Hanoi gave me goose bumps and a realization
that there is indeed such a country devastated by a war so
long ago. Being there made the names ‘Saigon,’ ‘Mekong
Delta’ and ‘Hanoi’ very real.”