Ailsa’s madagascar mission

A young dentist from Scotland who quit her job to volunteer on the world’s largest non-governmental floating hospital says she can’t wait to go back.

19 November, 2015 / infocus

Ailsa Malone, a 26-year-old dentist from Glasgow, recently spent two months in Madagascar on the Africa Mercy, a 16,000-tonne state-of-the-art hospital ship run by international charity Mercy Ships, with a crew of more than 450 volunteers from more than 40 nations.

Ailsa said: “A typical day involves working with a local Malagasy interpreter, assessing and treating adults and children – many of whom have travelled many miles – providing around 20 fillings and extracting up to 40 teeth.

“The most memorable moment from my time volunteering with Mercy Ships was when I first saw the dental queue. There were more than 400 people waiting to be screened, hoping to be one of the lucky 150 to get a ticket for a dental appointment for the next few days. This process happens every Monday and Thursday.

“Witnessing the level of dental need in Madagascar has been very difficult. Managing young children who need eight or more extractions under local anaesthetic has been a challenge.

“I have made some lifelong friends on the ship – it’s one of the best things I have ever done. I can’t wait to return and I think next time round I will bring a few of my friends along.”

Mercy Ships is taking part in the #GivingTuesday campaign taking place on Tuesday 1 December. To support Mercy Ships, you can text GTMS15 on 70070 to donate £2. Alternatively, visit the website at

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