In the fall of 2011, recently widowed, Jane McIntosh left Pender Island to volunteer for two years with Mercy Ships in Sierra Leone, Togo and Guinea. Mercy Ships bring hospital facilities and free surgeries to regions where clean water, electricity, medical facilities and personnel are limited or nonexistent. Jane was the head of the sterilizing room that processed the surgical instruments.
Jane and her husband always believed that they would spend a few of years of their life volunteering on the Africa Mercy Ships. These hospital ships transform the lives of people in resource-limited countries, performing thousands of surgeries every year, completely staffed with volunteers who pay their own way. As part of her healing journey, Jane wanted to fulfill their dream, but had to find funding.
Dave Howe and Ina Timmer of GreenAngels rallied the residents of Pender Island to raise the funds for Jane’s travel expenses and room and board by donating trees from their properties, which were then bucked and split into saleable firewood. This was the beginning of the Pender Island Woodchoppers, a branch of GreenAngels, who have since gone on to fund many projects, locally and internationally.
One of these projects is SPECT: Sterile Processing Education Charitable Trust. Jane met founder Christina Fast on the ship in Sierra Leone. Christina’s discoveries of horrific sterilizing practices there, inspired her to create SPECT. The Pender and Mayne Island GreenAngels, raised the funds to cover her legal costs to register the organization. Today, SPECT has five Global partnerships and has worked in seven African countries in 94 hospitals, 60 clinics with 504 staff teaching surgical instrument sterilization. (Read more about Christina and SPECT.)
The Wood Choppers and GreenAngels also raised funds for two young men from Sierra Leone, who became crewmembers on the Mercy Ship, to receive their sterilizing certifications. In August 2018, one of the young men began working as a Sterile Processor at a hospital in Abu Dhabi. The other is now the Team Leader for the Sterilizing department on the ship until at least June 2020.
Today, Jane continues her life-changing work with Mercy Ships, as the team’s engagement coordinator. Her story is just one example of how the Wood Choppers and GreenAngels have touched the lives of people around the globe—one cord at a time.