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Monday, September 21, 2015

We Are Still Alive

Just thought I'd post a quick note to let you all know that we are still alive, we are waiting for access to a reliable continuous internet connection and then we will give you an update on what's been happening.

Please know that you are all in our thoughts and prayers and appreciate all you do to support us in our transition.....we will be in touch soon.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Can Diving Really be Part of Serving God?

Check out what our amazing dive team do to help keep the bottom of our ship clean.  Without them our systems would shut down and stop the hospital from working. They are regularly going down and chipping all the barnacles off so another person receives life on board a hospital ship.  But this is in addition to their job on board.  This video is taken by David Forrest, he's the school principal, others are from departments like Technical, I.T. or Supply.

Notice all the little fish that are swimming around, the sort you usually see in the exotic fish shops at home, they can even be seen from the dock.
Diving the Mercy from david forrest on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Changes ! !

Here is our recent news with some changes coming for the Tretheways.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


This little boy stole the nurses hearts when they met him.  Cute, funny and always wanting to be the centre of attention, he has no idea that his bowed legs are supposed to slow him down!  He was amongst  the final orthopaedic surgeries.  
Following his surgery he was a little grumpy for a few days but it wasn't long before he was back to his cute self by the end of the week.  His Dad expressed his gratitude by saying "Thank you so much for what you are doing here.  You have helped so many.  This room was full earlier this week.  My son has straight legs again and he is not the only one!  He and the others will have a chance to be just like the other kids.  Thank you!"
Above is the team that makes these little straight legs happen.  Pray for them as they continue to carry out physiotherapy to get these legs working well.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world covering 226,000 square miles.  With so much distance to cover and limited roads, reaching our patients to bring hope and healing has been quite the challenge!  In some cases it could take days to travel to Tamatave where we are located.  Enter this beautiful Cessna pictured here.
No, this is not a new addition to the Mercy Ships fleet, but we have partnered with Mission Aviation Fellowship to transport patients located in remote regions to the ship.  This Cessna can carry 0 to 12 patients at a time allowing journeys that could take days by vehicle to be done in as little as 1-3 hours.  MAF Madagascar has been working here for 25 years and we look forward to partnering with them over the next year.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Our Transportation Department

I thought this would be a great blog to share with you all from our Transportation Manager.  It's amazing what it takes to run this organisation but there is a lot we couldn't do without our amazing transportation team.  Click on the picture below to read all about life on "road" with Joe.
 Joe's transportation blog

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Food for Life

Many of the diseases the Africa Mercy treats are diseases of poverty and malnutrition. what if we could help change that?

Our Food for Life program has that exact goal in mind.  By teaching agriculture skills through biblical principles, the Food for Life program changes the way people eat by teaching them the importance of nutrition.  In a five month course, 30 Malagasy will learn a variety of skills including farming, yoghurt making and raising small animals, all in an effort to build a healthy population for tomorrow.  On 11 April we look forward to their graduation.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Midwives Training

In Madagascar, hospitals are not always accessible to everyone.   Many women choose to deliver at home with the help of midwives.  But what happens when something goes wrong?  What resources can midwives count on?

Several will now be able to count on a little more knowledge.  Mercy Ships, in collaboration with the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland recently offered a 3 day course to midwives, nurses and doctors in the capital city of Antananarivo.  the course include hands-on practice in intubation as well as discussion groups for difficult deliveries.

For many medical professionals it was an opportunity to practice intubation and patient care on mannequins and not cadavers as they normally do.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sambany's Story

After three days of walking and another four hour journey in a car, Sambany showed up on our doorstep carrying one of the largest tumors we have ever seen. 
19 of his 60 years have been consumed by a tumour that has slowly been growing from his neck, now a burden that represents 19 years of misery and disgrace.  He said because of the tumour, he had stopped praying.  He didn't believe that he would ever have relief.  Then one day, near the end of 2014 a friend told, "there in Tamatave, there is a ship, Mercy Ships.  You can go there and be fixed".  He decided to take the chance and set out with his grandson.  For three days they walked until they finally reached a town with a paved road.  They rested there for some time then took a four hour car ride to finally reach the port city.  He had one of the biggest tumours the screening team had ever seen.
Knowing the risks, the Mercy Ships Medical team and Sambany reached a decision, they would go ahead with his surgery. The night before his surgery Sambany said, “I know without surgery I will die. I know I might die in surgery, but I already feel dead inside from the way I'm treated.  I choose to have surgery.”  After 12 hours of surgery, the 7.46 kg (16.45lbs) tumour he carried for nearly a third of his life was finally removed.  When he awoke after his surgery, he said, “When I have recovered, I want to repay you, because I am very happy, because I am saved.  God gave you to take out my big tumour.  God helped me to become like this.  God saved me".  When the nurses gave him a mirror to see his new face, he automatically held his hand out where his tumour was and with disbelief he brought his hand closer and closer to his face.
Today Sambany is a new man and he is happy.  He came to our community meeting on board to say thank you and received a standing ovation as we rejoiced together in his healing.
Continue to pray for his recovery.

Monday, February 16, 2015

WHO Checklist / Lifeboat Training

Here is an article from our Medical Capacity Building Manager, Krissy Close about some recent training she has been managing.

If you want to see me get passionate about something, ask me about the Checklist. If you've had surgery in the last decade you may recall being asked several times on the day of surgery questions like what is your name, what are you here for today, and do you have any allergies.  

When I was asked these questions a few years ago before shoulder surgery, I wondered to myself "Shouldn't you know this? You're operating on me!" - but now I understand they do know, they are just following the "Checklist". 

The WHO Safe Surgery Saves Lives Surgical Safety Checklist (aka. the Checklist) is a simple tool that helps the surgical team to improve safety in surgery and has been proven to decrease operating room mortality by nearly 50%, as well as significantly decrease surgical complications and infections.  It doesn't require fancy equipment or expensive drugs; meaning it can have as large of an impact in Dallas or Minneapolis as it does in Bejing or Nairobi or Toamasina.  The only piece of the Checklist that actually costs anything is the use of a pulse oximeter; so for this we have teamed up with Lifebox, an organization dedicated to ensuring every operating room in the world has this vital tool, to offer pulse oximeters where needed.
Step 1 - Learn about the checklist
You might be thinking, "Well that sounds great and simple, just teach people how to use it!" - if only it was that easy.  Behavior change is hard; Just because we know we should floss our teeth every day doesn't mean we actually do it.  Just because we know we should use a checklist before surgery doesn't mean we actually do it.  
Step 2 - Modify for the environment and team requirements
The Mercy Ships Medical Capacity Building program has been working to try and figure out what it takes to successfully implement the Checklist in the local hospitals where we are serving.  Over the last two months several Crew Members have been working alongside the surgical teams at CHU Toamasina to develop a practical, modified Checklist, tailored to the needs and requirements of the hospital, and practicing it's use through simulations and practical application in the operating room. 
Step 3 - Practice use in simulations
This week we welcome Dr. Ed Fitzgerald, a general surgeon and Lifebox representative, to offer Lifebox training in Toamasina, Brickaville, Moramanga, and Antananarivo. The team is then heading across the country to Mahajanga next week for checklist and Lifebox training in two hospitals there.   It's our hope that through this simple checklist that we could see transformation of surgical care in this country, and in the world.  
Step 4 - Use in the OR
It's exciting work to be a part of, thank you for your prayers for safe travels and a positive reception by all the Malagasy healthcare professionals we have the honor of serving in this way!

Read more about the WHO Checklist at http://www.who.int/patientsafety/safesurgery/en

Monday, February 09, 2015

Where Are Our Patients Coming From

I've always thought of Madagascar as a little island off the coast of the Southern tip of Africa - but when you are here you discover how big this country is.  It takes around 8 hours just to travel by road to the capital city.
Comparison of size to UK!
Over the last few months Mercy Ships has been carrying out screenings around the country.  In December a team headed up to the capital city of Antananarivo where they saw many patients in need.  Some of them began arriving here at the end of December.  They met many patients with powerful stories, including a VVF patient who walked for 5 days and then rode a taxi-brousse for 2 days to reach the screening site with the hope that Mercy Ships could help.  Another who's father summed up best what a new lip would mean for his 11 year old son who faces constant ridicule because of his cleft lip: "My family doesn't speak to me or my son.  No one wants to have anything to do with us.  If you can do this surgery for us, it will change our lives."
This was followed by another screening by the Mercy Vision Eye team.  We are discovering that the Malagasy have very good eyes so the team have had to go further afield to find suitable candidates for surgery.
Our surgical screening continued on in Toliara which is the capital of the large Atsimo-Andrefana region, one of the poorest in the country.  The region has a total estimated population of 1,018,500 (2004).  Then this past week in Mahajanga, in the North West to the Boeny region partnering with MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) to help fly them there.

This has made travelling for patients a little harder than previous countries so through the work of crew members, funds have been secured from various local businesses and cell phone fundraisers to pay for all their travel to and from the ship, whether by road or air.
Here is a map to show where they are coming from (this was calculated before the Toliara and Mahajanga screenings) :

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Hope Centre - More Transformation Photo's

 Here are more photo's from our Hope Centre Renovation.  The building is now open and housing all our patients that are recovering from surgeries.
Before / After
Before / After
Before / After

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Madagascar Life

We didn't really know what to expect coming to Madagascar, we knew it was part of Africa but somehow it was VERY different to the West Africa we had come to know.
At the beginning the crew spends some weeks getting orientated to a new country with a series of talks on various subjects with guest local speakers.  So armed with our very limited Malagasy terms "Salama Tompoko" (greeting), "Veloma" (goodbye) & "Misaotra" (thank you) and making sure we don't use Sharon's "greeting" that is specifically for her day crew friends that she knows well, we venture out.

When we walk out of the port gate we feel like we are being transported into Asia/Africa.  Yes it's still hot but the main thing you immediately hear is the call for you to come ride in the Pousse Pousse or the Tuk Tuk.  This is our main form of transport, it's actually kind of hard to find a taxi, and it is really good fun! There is a feeling of calm with no busy traffic jams.  
(Cost: about $1-2 per journey)

The crew clubbed together to buy 2 "Mercy Ships Tuk-Tuk's" to run people to and from the port gates.  We all buy a monthly "travel" ticket which pays for fuel, a job for a local and the vehicle.   It can be a long walk for a 7 year olds legs!
The Bicycle Pousse Pousse (meaning push push)
(Cost: 80 cents/£0.50 per journey)

We feel guilty riding in these whilst somebody works so hard as we sit lounging in the back because we're too lazy to walk, but on the other hand we want to use them so they can earn a wage for their family.  These guys are tough and are very aware of how "fat" you look.  They will very freely refuse to take two people that are on the larger size!  To be honest we don't blame them especially when you have to push that bike around.  We took one (actually two, due to previous "fat" comment!), one day and didn't have a clue what "long" a distance we had to go to get to our destination.  They really earned their money and the poor guys decided to rest and wait for us to finish our visit and take us all the way back.  We even bought them water because we felt so bad for them.
The market is a pleasant calm experience, you don't need to jostle through the crowds to get that one thing you want to buy only to have to haggle for another half hour.  The stalls are filled with spices galore, vanilla pods are sold by bunches at such a cheap price that vanilla essence is just a waste of time when you can have the "real" thing.  
You can buy branches with fresh lychees in the right season and they are so good, nothing compared to the tinned type you've probably experienced in the local Chinese restaurant. 
 There is even a local chocolatier (http://www.chocolaterierobert.com/en/welcome) selling hand made chocolates, Tim has become quite the romantic, stopping by the shop if he has a meeting ashore, and producing them on arrival in the cabin.

We also had the chance to go to a local lemur park where many lemurs roam around you in the trees.
 little white frog
So that's a little of life here outside the ship.