In this tumultuous year, Mercy Ships has looked for new ways to continue to deliver quality healthcare and training to the countries we serve. One unique project that has  developed during this time of change, is our new partnership with CURE International.

By partnering with CURE International, Mercy Ships is working to expand our ability to treat painful and deadly conditions for children in African countries that lack the medical infrastructure and safe surgical care they need. Several of our long-term volunteers have returned to Africa to serve in CURE hospitals focusing mainly on pediatric surgical care. One Mercy Ships volunteer, Dr. Tertius Venter  from South Africa, shared his experience after serving with CURE in Niger.

A long time volunteer, Dr. Tertius was no stranger to the struggles facing many hospital systems in sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, the CURE Children’s Hospital of Niger is the only hospital of its kind in the country. It offers specialty surgical care for children living with physical disabilities, such as clubfoot, cleft lips and palates, burn contractures, and other limiting conditions.

As a CURE volunteer, Dr. Tertius spent his time performing plastic reconstructive surgery on children as well as assisting with the mentoring and training of surgeons. Like his experience onboard our hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, Dr. Tertius’ surgical specialty typically sees him operating on children who suffer from contracted skin and limited mobility due to severe burns.

“I’m very impressed with the organization and level of care that CURE brings to their patients,” said Dr. Tertius. “I am grateful to God, Mercy Ships, and CURE for the opportunity to continue to serve God’s heart by serving the poor even under these unprecedented COVID pandemic circumstances. I’m blessed that I can pursue my call and reach out to those in need.”

Dr. Tertius is no stranger to volunteering his surgical skills to benefit causes he believes in. Beyond spending months every year operating onboard a Mercy Ship, he is also committed to regular service with the Pan Africa Academy for Christian Surgeons (PAACS) and Operation Smile, a non-profit focused on repairing cleft lips and palates. The opportunity to use his time and talent to help patients who couldn’t otherwise access care has guided his life for decades.

“I used to work in both government and private hospitals in South Africa,” he shared. “For private hospital surgeries I would always have to think about what I would be charging my patients, and then I would have to send them the bill. When I came to the ship, the knowledge that I was able to treat patients, purely because I wanted to help them, and without thinking about money, was the most freeing feeling I’ve known.”

The recent collaboration with CURE International was just another way to fulfil his calling to provide a vital medical service in under-resourced countries. Thank you, Dr. Tertius, for your heart to serve!

Interested in how you can help changes lives? There are many ways to join our mission of hope and healing. See how here.