Published: Jul 10, 2014 4:30 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 10, 2014 5:58 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- A Southwest Florida woman is spending some time with her family, after completing 10 months of volunteer duty on the hospital ship, Africa Mercy. 23-year old Sarah Kate Couch shared her experiences with WINK News.

"It is amazing to see the people and their needs," says Couch of the Africans she met in the Congo.

"We treat and operate on all kinds of situations - deformities, burns, tumors, post-childbirth problems, cataracts, just all kinds of medical things," she tells WINK News.  "It's heart-breaking, especially the children who fall into cooking fires and get burned.   It is rewarding to know that we are doing things that change lives.  A great feeling."

Couch, a graduate of Ft. Myers High School and Carson Newman Univ. in Tennessee, says she handles administrative duties in one of the operating rooms on the Africa Mercy.  She gets off the ship once a week, visiting an orphanage in the Congo.

Now, she is spending some time off in Lee county, getting ready to return to the ship for another year of volunteer work.

Not only does she not get paid, but Couch has to raise money to pay her way overseas.   She gets support from church members, relatives and friends, and from social media.

"This has definitely set a fire.  I don't know if I am cut out to be a surgeon, but I do want to reach out and help the poor," says Couch.   She hopes to go to medical school after completing the next year on the Africa Mercy.