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Saturday, May 01, 2010

2011 Field Service Anounced

High we exalt thee, realm of the free Great is the love we have for thee Firmly united, ever we stand Singing the praise, our native land We raise up our hearts and our voices on high The hills and the valleys re-echo our cry Blessing & peace be ever thy own Land that we love our Sierra Leone

(Sierra Leone National Anthem) Recently Mercy Ships announced that our Field Service for 2011 will be in Sierra Leone. This will be the fourth time that Mercy Ships has delivered free world-class medical care to the impoverished West African nation. The protocols and Memoranda of Understanding have been signed. The agreement provides the necessary collaboration with the Sierra Leone government in regard to the port, security, water and sanitation. It also opens the door for the Mercy Ships Advance Team to do the preliminary work necessary for the upcoming Field Service.

Health care in Sierra Leone is unaffordable and often unavailable. The country ranks 180 out of 182 nations on the 2009 Human Development Index, and the majority of the population lives on less than $2 per day. Infant mortality in Sierra Leone is 159 per 1000 births as compared to the USA at 6.3 per 1000 births. Dental care is another illustration of the conditions within the country, with one dentist for every one million people, where as it's 6,000 dentists per million people in the USA Mercy Ships looks forward to their continued partnership with the West African Fistula Centre in Aberdeen founded in 2004. The clinic is now under the management of the Freedom from Fistuala Foundation. The Centre offers free surgeries to women suffering from childbirth-related injury and has the capacity to serve between 500 and 600 patients per year. The Africa Mercy will also serve as a platform for training African healthcare professionals and for community development teams. These programs ensure that the positive impact of Mercy Ships will continue long after the ship leaves Sierra Leone. Don Stephens, Mercy Ships Founder/President said, "Sierra Leone holds a special place in the heart of Mercy Ships. We are looking forward to building upon the foundation we established in 3 previous visits. The people of Sierra Leone started asking ‘when will your hospital ship come back to our country in the immigration and customs lines at the airport. Welcome Mercy Ships was the greeting of several officials. You help our people. Please come back!’"

(The famous Bat tree in the middle of town, bats can be seen hanging there all day)

For Sharon it will be a special time as this was her first Field Service when she joined Mercy Ships in 2001 and was captured by the sweet nature of the Sierra Leoneons, even now she can almost hum the tune to their national anthem. In 2001 the civil war was just ending and poverty was at it's lowest. It will be interesting to see if there have been any changes during the last 10 years.

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