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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hospitality Centre

The Hospitality Center, situated about 3 ½ km. (two miles) from where the Africa Mercy is, opened its doors the first week in March. The 40-bed facility offers overnight provision for up to 90 patients awaiting surgeries and other procedures. It also provides on-land office space for eye services and other programs.
During its first week of operation, the Center handled pre-op and post-op services for 240 eye patients. 80 of those patients were receiving cataract surgery. Eye Specialist Woody Hopper, who heads the eye services office, estimates that 1600 eye patients will utilize the facility during this field service. The Center also housed 88 patients and caregivers overnight to prevent travel problems during Togo's recent national election. Surrounded by a gated cement wall, the Hospitality Center is a peaceful oasis in the middle of the tumultuous city of Lomé. It is housed in a government-owned clinic that is being transformed into a hospital. The Togolese government is allowing Mercy Ships to use one wing of the clinic for the duration of the Togo Field Service. Mercy Ships workers have replaced the leaky roof, installed electricity and air-conditioning, and done a thorough cleaning. The result is a sanitary, up-to-date, and pleasant environment for patients awaiting medical services.
The Hospitality Center is under the supervision of our Land-Based Programs Manager and a management team who share the workload. They are assisted by 22 day-volunteers, divided into teams to do maintenance, drive the shuttles, and assist guests. On the Centre's opening day, 30 patients received pre-op services before receiving their eye surgeries onboard the Africa Mercy . They returned to the Center for post-op care, including instructions and eye care products. Assistants translated instructions into French, Togo's official language, and Ewe, one of the country's most prevalent tribal languages.
You can often here the native drum and celebrated singing of people giving thanks to God. Faces glow with smiles, and arms rise in praise, as patients sing and move with the beat of the music. One eye patient, Kossi Diabo, smiled widely "I am very happy to be here this morning to get a healing from God " he said "and would thank Mercy Ships for what they are doing. First , I can't see anything. Now, I can see! May God encourage you and give you strength." Patients who undergo cataract surgery return for a laser procedure 6 weeks after surgery. When those treatments begin, a Celebration of Sight will be held every Friday for up to 120 patients, a wonderful opportunity to join together in thanking God for His goodness.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Glimpse Into Our Screening Days

In Togo we have been taking a different approach by holding more smaller screenings. Here is a video which gives you a glimpse into the lives of the screening team and what it takes to assess if somebody is suitable for surgery.

Friday, April 16, 2010

New Legs!

Patients like 11 year old Abel Dalome experience life changing surgeries thanks to the dedicated volunteers on our ship! This young man's life will never be the same.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

School Photos

This week we received Nathanael's school photo's. Isn't he a cutie? Apparently it was quite an interesting morning for the photographer and 7 pre-schoolers!
This is Nathanael with his nursery class. As you can see, getting them all to look the same way and smile at the same time just didn't happen.
.....and this is our academy (school) on board. Ages range from 2-18 years.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Would You Be a Deckie

Let us introduce you to our deck department. They are amazing hard working guys and girls. Whether it needs painting, lifting, securing, moving, fixing, purifying your water, fire extinguishers, steering the ship etc, there is so much that they do and to write it all here would take forever. A lot could even go unnoticed by many.
But there is always one job that I don't think I (Sharon) could ever bring myself to do. During our field service our deckies and day volunteers take on the task of painting the outside of the ship. Now we're not sophisticated enough to have running platforms that run round the ship like they do on the posh cruise ships. Instead we use the old fashioned bosun chair. Old fashioned? you say....oh yes, some rope and a plank and it works, along with a safety line!
First, it can be a long way down that rope ladder.
Then you get on your plank, along with your friend and lifejacket.
You chip away the rust spots and spruce it up with some paint.
You can even do it in teams!
So if you like to live life on the edge, come be a deckie for a few weeks.
Thank you Deckies you do an amazing job.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

A Busy Week

A week of challenges and surprises, typical for us...?
It began last weekend with a wonderful dinner with new friends, Glotin family, working with the French Navy in Togo. The US Ambassador turned up and we learned a lot about Africa Art, politics and other interesting subjects.
Of course there were the usual demands of work and preparations for surveys and other business of operating a ship, Mercy or otherwise.
On Tuesday morning, we received word that the President of Togo, Mr. Gnassingbe, would be visiting the ship. It is an interesting challenge to make all the preparations for a visit of a Head of State in less than 24 hours, but our great team pulled it all together, from Security arrangements to special arrangements of chairs and so much more. I believe that the President's visit was a meaningful experience for him as well as an honor for us. It is part of the amazing ministry we have.....to be able to touch the hearts of the poorest of the poor, and a President, on the same day.
Life quickly returned (for Tim) to the other important tasks, like trying to confirm some permits for the ship, arranging for the delivery of 600 metric tons of fuel, sharing with a local businessman that we were following the example of Jesus in coming to bring Hope and Healing in his country. We plan to meet again.
Mercy Ships Founders Don and Deyon Stephens were back on board, with friends of Mercy Ships US Congressman and Mrs L. Gohmert. Later, I met Former VP of DR Congo visiting on board for two days as well.
The Taxes were finished (hurray) and we ran errands in the city (accidentally meeting the Glotins on the way) and dodging a large "political rally." Nathanael got a fever last night. This morning a good turnout for the sunrise service on Deck 8 and a wonderful Resurrection Service later. With Nathanael sick, we'll have Brunch in the cabin, and, we hope, an afternoon of rest and joy in the Resurrection of our Savior.