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Winnipeg doctor to give aid in Africa

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Mehdi Sefidgar, 30, is aboard a ship, operated by Mercy Ships, at Pointe-Noire in the Republic of Congo.  Before he left, the anesthesia resident and University of Manitoba student was excited to meet his fellow volunteers and new patients.

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Mehdi Sefidgar, 30, is aboard a ship, operated by Mercy Ships, at Pointe-Noire in the Republic of Congo. Before he left, the anesthesia resident and University of Manitoba student was excited to meet his fellow volunteers and new patients. Photo Store

A young Winnipeg resident doctor is about to go on the adventure of a lifetime to help the less fortunate in the Republic of Congo.

Mehdi Sefidgar, 30, boarded the Africa Mercy on Jan. 17 and will remain there at Pointe-Noire in the Republic of Congo until Feb. 14. The aid ship is part of an international charity organization called Mercy Ships. The hospital ships deliver free health care and community development to impoverished people.

"In different parts of the world people don’t have it as easy as we do," said Mehdi, who was born in Iran and moved to Canada when he was six. "Medicine is an area where you can provide a lot of care and comfort to people, especially when they don’t have any access to it at all."

Sefidgar is a fifth-year anesthesia resident in training at the University of Manitoba and Health Sciences Centre St. Boniface. Sefidgar received the opportunity to travel on the ship through one of his program’s attending physicians — Dr. Heinz Reimer, who has been volunteering with Mercy Ships since 2009.

"We’re really lucky at the University of Manitoba because some of our attending anesthesia physicians do charitable work overseas and in different parts of the world," Sefidgar said. "Whenever they go, they offer to take a resident along with them for us to see what it is like to go, and for another set of hands to help out."

Though Sefidgar is excited, he will be leaving behind his wife and seven-month-old daughter.
"She’s our first child and I’m really nervous about leaving the two of them," Sefidgar said. "In terms of the trip I’m not too nervous about going overseas. I’ve travelled a lot overseas so I feel comfortable with that.

"I’m really excited to meet the other volunteers and to meet the people that we will be helping."

For more information on Mercy Ships, visit mercyships.ca

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