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!