This year has been filled with many victories, from our triumphant return to Senegal, to the Global Mercy’s first voyage to Africa. However, these wonderful accomplishments are only possible thanks to three vital ingredients coming together.
The first is our host nation’s encouragement and partnership to bring medical care to those who need it most in the countries we serve. This field service was unique in that many of the patients who came on board had been approved for surgery in 2020. At the time, COVID-19 had changed the world, causing businesses and organizations to close down or suspend operations. When the Africa Mercy returned in February of this year, it was to great anticipation for all to come.
“Two years ago, we had to say, ‘I’m sorry. We can’t help you right now. We’ll be back,'” Dr. Miriam John, Mercy Ships Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said. “Now, we’re fulfilling a promise to our patients. The door is open, and we step through that door when we start operating. That is the moment we start doing what we came here to do.”
The second ingredient to bringing hope and healing to those who need it most is the dedicated and hard-working volunteers who serve with us. Whether on board the Africa Mercy in Senegal this year navigating new COVID protocols and the challenges of quarantining, or those serving on board the Global Mercy, preparing the new ship for her first field service, your service has impacted communities and changed lives. We are so grateful for our volunteers who sacrifice their time to give their skills to those in need.
“What may seem like a crazy decision will be one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of your life,” Dr. Joe Park, volunteer Anesthesiologist said. “I still remember our patients’ faces, I still remember their stories, and I know there are so many more people like that who still need help.”
The third and final ingredient comes from the compassion of friends like you. Our partners who join our mission through financial and prayerful support. That support goes further than a simple surgery… it transforms whole communities, families, and individuals, and we are so thankful.
When these three ingredients combine, the impact is clearly visible, as in the story of 4-year-old Aissatou.
Aissatou lived a life surrounded by the love of her family, but the cleft lip that she had been born with shadowed her future. Without access to surgery, Aissatou would continue to feel like an outsider in her community.
One day her father heard about a hospital ship in his country. He rushed his daughter to the Africa Mercy, where the young girl received surgery to repair her cleft lip. After recovery, Aissatou returned to her village, where many of her neighbors and friends were amazed by her transformation.
“We had lost all hope,” one of the village elders shared. “Nobody believed that she would be healed… but then Mercy Ships came, and you showed us that there was hope. And now you have healed our village’s daughter… For that, we will always be thankful.”
This year we celebrate the many lives, families, and communities that have experienced healing. Together, we have brought healing to over 1,600 people through surgical and dental procedures. In addition, over 600 medical professionals have received training from our medical capacity building programs. This means more trained, and more skilled professionals capable of bringing hope and healing to their home countries.
We are so grateful for everyone who has touched our mission this year and look forward to all the hope that is ahead!
Thank you and from all of us at Mercy Ships, Happy New Year!