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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.

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