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As you are probably aware, many of us are in the middle of the “Home is Where the Heart Is” workshop and during this time it is pretty hard not to be thinking long and hard about the concept of  home and what that means to me. Fortunately, I have never had a  picture in my mind of a physical place that I call “home” – which is a probably a good thing because I never, in my wildest imagination, thought my “home” would be on an old rail ferry, now hospital ship docked in various countries around the world!

My picture of home always revolved around the people that made up my home … It didn’t matter to me where we lived or what we lived in. What was (and still is)  important to me was that we were together, we loved each other and we did life together. With that in mind, my “home” at the moment is made up of my husband David, our oldest daughter Chloe Jane, our middle daughter Annabelle and the youngest of the three Charlotte.  I can include Chloe Jane, who is normally back home in Australia studying, because at the moment she is here with us visiting for a month and we are all so excited to have her here!

Some random facts about my home (the physical one!) at the moment:

  • It is an old rail ferry – The Dronning Ingrid (Queen Ingrid) – that was built for Danish State Railways in 1980 to transport rail carriages.
  • It was purchased (in 1999) and converted into a modern hospital ship in 2007 and is now the largest, and only, floating hospital ship in the world.
  • The ship is 520m long, 23.14m wide and has 8 decks.
  • The upper decks are for accommodating nearly 500 crew members that are made up of families, couples and individuals, both long and short term crew as well as short term visitors.  There are approximately 120 cabins, a nursery, an Academy for children from Kindergarten to Grade 12, a library, a laundry, a small supermarket, a dining room, a gymnasium, a Starbucks cafe and our very own “boutique” (a free to use and donate, up-cycle, thrift shop!) We even have a pool, which is on deck 81/2 or 9! It is an old shipping container that has been turned upside down and filled with water!
  • Deck three is a modern hospital with six Operating theaters, an Intensive Care Unit, an ophthalmic unit, an outpatients clinic, two CT scanners, x-ray, laboratories, a recovery ward with beds for 78 patients as well as a dental clinic and a crew clinic.

Some random facts about where we are living at the moment:

  • We are currently docked on the East Coast of Madagascar, in the port of Toamasina (Malagasy) or Tamatave (French).
  • Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world.
  • The population of Madagascar is approximately 23.5 million, 90 percent of whom live on less than two dollars per day.
  • The average age of the population is 17.
  • Malagasy and French are the official languages – however, there are 18 cultural groups and each have their own dialect!
  • Over 90 percent of the wildlife in Madagascar is found nowhere else on Earth!





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16 Responses to Blog: Home is …

  1. Janice says:

    What a fabulous adventure, and a pretty wonderful place to call home at the moment. I love all the facts, and the old photo of the ship when it was the rail ferry! Can’t wait to see photos of the family with Chloe Jane visiting – so glad you have all of you together for now!

  2. What an amazing and life-changing adventure. It truly takes a special kind of person to do what you and your family are doing. I look forward to seeing more of photos chronicling your adventures!

  3. jolleyontheroad jolleyontheroad says:

    Awesome!! Love it!! Such an exciting thing to be doing!!

  4. Nita says:

    This is fascinating!!! Keep your amazing stories coming!!!!!!! So glad Chloe Jane can be there for a good visit with you all!!

  5. Barbara says:

    For someone who only lived in two houses most of her life, getting married and moving from Texas to North Carolina was a big adventure. I had no idea at the time how true your statement about home being where you heart is would be. Corporate life led us to move every two to four years to many states and even a period in Brazil. As long as I had my family with me, I was a happy camper. Enjoy you adventure and your new home Justine!

  6. Deanna Emmert says:

    It is very evident that the physical location of your home will always be where the Lord has provided for you to be or where he directs you to go. Your heart is for your family and extended family and in ministering His care and love for others too. Continued blessings upon you!! Your story is awesome!!

  7. Sandy says:

    I have been fascinated by reading the adventures of your family. I am so glad to hear that you are all together for a little while. Enjoy the time shared with each other.

  8. Terry Vachowski says:

    What a cool home, Justine! Boston Children’s Floating was originally on the water. Wish I had seen that. Love your adventure!

  9. Liz Propst says:

    So interesting to hear more about your hospital ship…8 decks, larger than I imagined! A real blessing to so many children and their families!! Thanks for the gift of your time to help others…and in return I am sure that your family is growing in many many ways. The swimming pool sound fun! I am blessed by your ministry to those in Madagascar…and how many photo opportunities you will have while you are there!!

  10. Kaye Rhodes says:

    Thank you for sharing the details of your home and your adventure!

  11. Jan says:

    Very cool and interesting facts, Justine! And how right you are – our homes are where our hearts are. Looks like yours is in the right place! xx

  12. Glenna says:

    Oh it sounds like a grand adventure. Thanks for sharing your new home with us. Hope we get to see more photos.

  13. Joyce says:

    This was especially interesting to me as I was on one of these ships (in a rail car!) in 1994. I need to see if any of my photos show the ship’s name! I love hearing about your work. It is such an inspiration.

  14. adakallen says:

    WOW! What a history/story! You and your family are such an inspiration to me! I always enjoy reading your post and seeing your pictures!

  15. Ruth Bell says:

    Your home really is where the heart is! Wish we could visit you.

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