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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Life on Board

Just before 5am on 17th September 08 a baby girl was born on B ward of the Africa Mercy. The mother was here as a caregiver for her son who was onboard for a surgery to his hand. Though only eight months into her pregnancy, she began feeling pains at 1am. Fortunately we have a nurse on board who is a midwife and so she was called, along with the physician, to see the safe delivery of the baby. The baby arrived at 4:41, weighing 4lb 9oz. (2.08kg).
For the midwife it was a bit of a confidence boost to successfully deliver a baby without all of the tools she normally has when she is at home in Australia. During the ward devotional, the counselors gathered around the newborn and prayed a blessing over her. One declared her name to be Mercy and the mother smiled in agreement. The childs father visited in the afternoon and said it was a very nice name for her. Interestingly, their son was not even scheduled to be on board the ship, He was on a waiting list for an operation on his hand and they came on Sunday because another patient had cancelled and opened a spot for him.
As Captain, Tim has many hats to wear, and one of those jobs includes being the onboard birth and death registrar where he must record all birth and deaths that happen on the ship and issue certificates. So although it meant extra paperwork for him, it was paperwork that he enjoyed. He was able to meet and congratulate the parents on their new addition, not something he gets to do everyday!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Listen to our Blog on the Go!

You may have noticed a little "Odiogo" button above each post. This is our latest gadget for all those who like podcasts. If you're too busy to read our blog you can now subscribe and receive each blog post as a podcast to place on your iPod or MP3 player and listen on the go. You could even play it on your PC whilst doing something else constructive! but of course you might still need to view the blog page from time to time to see the photo's we post.
Happy listening!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Having the Tools for the Task!

Most of you will think of Mercy Ships as just medical work and over time we also want to share with you some of the other things that as a crew we get involved with outside the hospital area.
When Mercy Ships gets invited to a country we usually send out an advance team who will live there for a few months to get things set up for when the ship arrives. Part of their job is to seek out needs and where Mercy Ships can have an affect on lives whether business or personal. On this occasion the Ministry of Health actually aproached Mercy Ships and asked if we would be in a position to help with some training of administrative support staff. This was an amazing opportunity to come alongside the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, which will, in turn, have an affect on those working there and those needing their resources. The ultimate goal of the programe was that those who were trained would act as change agents and use the training they had received to train others within the ministry.
You might think, "is that really a need?"....oh yes!
3 candidates were selected to join the training program which included a Vital Statistics Manager, and 2 from the Administrative Department and Human Resources Department. The course ran for 3 days a week over 3 months. 2 days were spent training on the ship and 1 day at the ministry, this helped identify needs that could help in their work and also see them apply the training in their own workplace and how it worked.
Some of the things might be quite simple to you and I but are not always the "African" way. In one department people would arrive to get services and there would be a great confusion on what to do, where to go, who to talk to etc, which resulted in a crowd of people all asking the same question. So Mercy Ships helped them create clear signs to indicate the way, even form a line so people took their turn. This was quite an easy thing to do and helped tremendously to avoid the chaos that developed before.
Another man's job was to go through the payroll. He had pages and pages of lists to go through and compare, to identify those names that were duplicated, or for some employees they don't even know whether they were still alive following the war, they could be in some refugee camp This man had to work through this all the time. It would take him at least 4 hours to go through it and he would maybe come up with 2 or 3 names. Mercy Ships brought him on board and taught him how to use Microsoft Excel. They had the program at his office but he didn't know how to use it. Following that training he was producing 40 names from the list in no time at all.
Another man was a muslim and he was being taught leadership skills. The main model we used was, of course, Jesus and so this man was reading books all associated with Christianity and he was so eager to learn that I think Denise, who was training him, was running to keep up with him. It is great that the gospel can be linked in this way.
The training has finally come to a close for these 3 candidates and another 3 are due to start soon. Mercy Ships hosted a graduation ceremony for the students on board the Africa Mercy to honour all that they had achieved. Due to the success of this programme in Liberia, Mercy Ships is hoping to continue this training during our next outreach in Benin next year. Please pray that this training will have a great impact on lives.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Moody Radio Mercy Ships Broadcast

Moody Radio recently broadcasted a 9 minute piece about Mercy Ships on their Prime Time America radio program. The piece was produced onboard the Africa Mercy earlier this year and focuses on the mechanics of "doing ministry". There are many voices from our crew, some past and present and it gives you a little insight on what it's like to work onboard the Africa Mercy. Click on the play button to hear it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

How Long Does an Oxygen Bottle Last?

Last Thursday the fire alarm rang, crew fled from their cabins to gather on the dock. Thick smoke spread throughout the aft end of deck 5 on the Africa Mercy, seeping under cabin doors. Cabin checkers knocked on doors to check nobody was left. Fire teams rushed to the scene with fire hoses at the ready. At each muster station, lists of names are read out to ensure everybody is there.
Sounds dramatic eh?
Actually it's just a normal Thursday fire drill and the smoke was only pretend, although it did get one crew member worried when she saw the smoke filling up her cabin!
This is our wonderful fire team. They are ready to respond to any alarm at any time of the day or night and we could not do without them.......it makes us feel safe! Recently they did an experiment to see how long an oxygen bottle would last whilst walking up and down the dock. It was interesting to see how it varied from each person, depending on how they breath. Imagine walking in a full firemens outfit, along with mask, in the heat of the day in Monrovia....not a nice thing to do, but these guys did it and now know how much air they have!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

How Much Can You Balance On Your Head?

I suppose when you run out of arm space the most sensible thing would be to put it on your head. This is a regular scene around town. Why not give it a try next time you need to carry a lot of stuff.