Mercy Ships just docked in Cotonou, Benin, with the Africa Mercy, the world’s largest private hospital ship. Volunteer crew will provide surgeries and healthcare training for the next ten months.

August 22, 2016, Cotonou, Benin: Mercy Ships returned to Benin for a 10-month field service that had been delayed since 2014 due to the Ebola outbreak. The hospital ship and its crew were warmly greeted by welcome festivities including national music and dances. A brief tour of the ship was provided for the heads of state and dignitaries.


Emmanuel Essah, Mercy Ships crewmember, presents the flag of Benin to Madam Claudine Gbenagnon Talon, First Lady of Benin.


The all-volunteer crew is eager to fulfill plans that were postponed for two years. During the Africa Mercy’s 10-month stay in the port of Cotonou, Mercy Ships plans to meet immediate medical needs by providing over 1,700 life-changing surgeries for adult and pediatric patients onboard and by treating over 8,000 at a land-based dental clinic. To improve Benin’s healthcare delivery system, Mercy Ships will also provide medical training to Beninese healthcare professionals.

“Mercy Ships has been serving West Africa for 25 years. We are pleased to be back in Benin for our fifth visit providing specialized surgeries and healthcare training to the Beninese, who hold such a warm place in our hearts,” commented Mercy Ships President and Founder Don Stephens.

During the arrival ceremony, Madame Claudine Gbenagnon Talon, First Lady of the Republic of Benin, addressed the crew, saying,

“Behind all statistics, there is a story, a life, a person who needs a new hope, a treatment, or a cure. I wish that this enriching collaboration of Benin with Mercy Ships will continue to grow year after year for the well-being of the population.”

Benin ranks 166 out of 187 countries according to the United Nations Humanitarian Development index, which indicates the great need that exists in this West African nation. The free surgeries provided by Mercy Ships will include removing life-threatening tumors, repair of cleft lips and palates, obstetric fistulas, hernias, severe burn-related injuries and correction of pediatric orthopedic deformities.  A dental clinic will offer treatment to patients for the duration of the 10-month stay, and an ophthalmology program will start in January 2017.

Each year, Mercy Ships has an average of 900 volunteer crew serving onboard its hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, with about 400 crew from over 45 nations serving at any given time. In total, Mercy Ships has more than 1,600 volunteers helping in its various locations around the world.

The Mercy Ships crew is anxious to start serving the Beninese, and the screening process for patients will begin this week to select those who have conditions that can be treated by Mercy Ships. The delivery of hope and healing to Benin has begun!




ABOUT MERCY SHIPS:  Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services, capacity building and sustainable development to those without access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1 billion, treating more than 2.5 million direct beneficiaries. Each year Mercy Ships has more than 1,600 volunteers from more than 40 nations. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. Learn more about who we are.


For More Information:

Contact: Laura Rebouche ́
U.S. National Media Relations Director Mercy Ships
Office:+1 903.939.7000
Direct:+1 903.939.7127

For Int’l: Diane Rickard
International Media Relations Manager Mercy Ships

Hi-res photos and general Mercy Ships B-Roll video footage are available upon request.