As we close the book on 2019 and look ahead to the possibilities of 2020, we wanted to take some time to reflect on all that has been accomplished!

Over the last year, the Africa Mercy spent five months in Guinea and five months in Senegal, during which volunteers from around the world helped provide life-changing medical care to those in need.

During 2019, over 2,000 surgeries (including our historical 100,000 surgical procedure!) were provided to over 1,500 people, changing the lives of many adults and children like baby Mohammed.

For nineteen-year-old Sayoe, surgery onboard the Africa Mercy was the second chance she’d been praying for. Sayoe never imagined she would be greeted with anything except joy when she gave birth to her first child. But when baby Mohammed was born with a cleft lip and palate, people accused her of witchcraft, saying that her baby’s deformity was a curse. Despite being told to abandon Mohammed, who had been called a ‘devil child,’ she fought to protect him.

“People told me to get rid of him,” Sayoe said. “They told me I had done something wrong, that I had dabbled in witchcraft and that I should leave him by the side of the road to die. But I couldn’t do it. He is my first child, and I love him.”

Sayoe heard about the Africa Mercy thanks to a Mercy Ships ambassador and quickly came to the ship. It was here that Sayoe found friendships through a common bond. These brave mothers also loved their children despite facing abandonment by their communities.

During her time on the Africa Mercy, Sayoe learned to break through the guilt and shame that had been placed on her. Thanks to her courage and love for her son, her handsome baby boy was given a new chance at life!

Following surgery to correct his cleft lip and palate, Mohammed beamed his beautiful new smile to his doting mother!

Over the past year, volunteers with the Mercy Ships dental clinics saw over 6,000 patients and performed thousands of dental procedures that will help prevent further painful and even life-threatening conditions for many.

In addition, over 140 medical professionals such as nurses, surgeons, and anesthesia providers were mentored in medical procedures such as maxillofacial and burn recovery, and over 1,000 participants were able to complete training programs furthering their education in fields such as essential pain management, safe surgery procedures, and nutritional agriculture.

For Marie-Louise, who participated in the Mercy Ships nutritional agriculture program, this education is vital to informing those in her community. After graduating, Marie-Louise immediately jumped into action to apply what she’d learned.

Along with two other course participants, she’s now traveling to smaller villages across the region, teaching women nutritional basics, food production techniques, and packaging methods so that they can store or sell their food more efficiently.

“I learned from this training that children are malnourished because there is a lack of means and a lack of education of their parents in the area of agriculture,” Kantabadouno said. “Their parents are all farmers, but they do not have any experience. I’ll now have the chance to talk to families and help them evolve in the field.”

While we are excited for all that has been accomplished over this past year, none of it would be possible without the support of our corporate partners, donors, and volunteers! We are so thankful for your partnership through 2019 and look forward to what is in store in 2020! Thank you!