A Wave of Change
The year is off to a strong start! From the recent start of our new field service, where we are serving two nations simultaneously, to the projects continuing in countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa, there’s so much hope on the horizon.
And we want to share how you have been a part of that hope! As you read this edition of Waves of Mercy, we hope that the following stories of hope, healing, and lives restored touch your heart in the same ways they have touched ours. We believe hope has a ripple effect impacting not only a person, but families, communities, and even entire nations. Thank you for being a part of that wave.
The Future of Possibility
Adama’s life was full of love and laughter, thanks to the special bond she shared with her grandparents, Binta and Issa, who took her in when she was just a baby. Knowing that Adama’s cleft lip made her feel different from other children, they worked hard to instill strength and curiosity in their granddaughter.
Without access to surgery to heal Adama’s condition, Binta worried that her granddaughter’s future would always be hindered. Then one day, a spark of hope ignited.
“I am so happy. Only God can do this,” Binta said. “I thank God and all the nurses and crew.”
Two Countries One Ship
The 2023 field service is quickly approaching, and we are thrilled to announce that we will be returning once again to serve the wonderful people of Senegal. We are also excited to serve in a new way, by welcoming patients from the neighboring country, The Gambia, on board our hospital ship for the first time in over 20 years.
Unlike many countries that sit against one another, The Gambia is unique in the fact that it is an independent country set in the middle of Senegal. Though the country is small, with the widest point measuring less than 31miles, over 2.4 million people call it home — a home with little access to medical care.
Both Senegal and The Gambia share the alarming statistic of one physician per 10,000 people — about 18 times less than can be found in the United States. The need is great.
Without access to quality healthcare, treatable conditions become life-altering and sometimes threatening burdens. Children grow up ostracized and in pain, and parents are forced to choose between feeding their families or spending their savings in search of healing — often finding themselves continually turned away.
It’s because of these children, families, and communities that we pursue our mission of hope and healing. And though we are still a few weeks away from the very first operations on board the Global Mercy, we’ve already begun to prepare for the hope ahead. Screening teams have been on the ground in both The Gambia and Senegal since late 2022, and potential patients have been identified for the surgeries that will change their futures forever.
There is so much hope ahead! We thank you for your partnership and hope you are as excited as we are for the transformations that are soon to come. We could not do this vital work without you. Thank you!
Astou’s life has had shadows of pain. When she was 20 years old, she lost her son during childbirth, but that wasn’t the only tragedy that occurred. In addition to lasting emotional pain,
the trauma of her strenuous labor led to an obstetric fistula, leaving her incontinent. What followed was 20 years of living with an injury that caused embarrassment and shame.
Her troubles increased when she noticed a small lump on her neck — a goiter that began to grow, threatening her future. Thankfully, because of friends like you and the leap of faith made by Astou, she received surgery to fix both conditions.
“Since she has been treated, she is free and happy,” her husband shared. “She can go out and welcome whomever she wants at home with happiness and joy.”
The Year Ahead
2023 will be a year of exciting changes both for Mercy Ships and for Africa. This year marks the first time our newest hospital ship, the Global Mercy, will serve as the platform for hope and healing through both surgical interventions and medical training. And with Mercy Ships serving two countries from one port, we know that change is on the horizon.
But we know that change would be impossible without the dedicated people behind our mission. If our hospital ships were empty they wouldn’t be able to do much. In order to change lives, we need the right people in the right positions, at the right times. And we’ve been blessed by so many who have answered the call to serve.
People like Dr. Mark Shrime, Harvard Medical School lecturer and our new International Chief Medical Officer. A longtime volunteer as a surgeon on board the Africa Mercy, Dr. Shrime’s heart beats to the same rhythm as the organization he serves — a heart that strives to bring hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor.
From those serving in the galley, to the officers keeping the ships afloat, to the doctors and nurses in the wards and every position in between, every person on board is part of a bigger picture — changing the lives of our patients.
As we finish our final preparations for this year’s field service we encourage you to find where you might fit. Whether as a financial partner, a prayerful friend, or perhaps on board yourself, see how you can help bring hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor. Visit mercyships.org to learn more.
As we consider the year that’s ahead, we want to take a moment to thank you, our friends, for your part in bringing hope and healing to those in need. A dream that began over 40 years ago would still be an aspiration if it weren’t for the compassion and dedication of people like you — those who have worked to see it become a reality. From our volunteers on board our ships to our financial partners, to our alumni, and those who continue to pray for us… we know each person is vital. Thank you.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
— Romans 15:13