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Friday, July 25, 2014

Sensational Seniors

This year Mercy Ships had the privilege of working with the maturer generation of Pointe Noire at a senior community centre as one of their Mercy Ministries.  Here's an account written by crew that participated in this ministry.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
II Corinthians 4:7-9
 I have never witnessed such an example of these verses as I see each time we visit the Senior Community Centre with Mercy Ministries. These are extraordinary people that it is our absolute joy to be able to call our friends.

Congo is one of the few countries in Africa that actually has programs to meet the needs of their senior citizens. Unfortunately, that need is enormous. Many older people have been abandoned by their families, blamed for ‘bad luck’ caused by witchcraft and curses. Some have actually had their homes sold by their children, been chased away and have to fend for themselves at an age where finding and being able to work is extremely difficult.
These people are “struck down, but not destroyed.” They come together at their local Community Center each Wednesday for a time of encouraging each other, dancing, singing, storytelling and exercise. Mercy Ministries partner organization AMI Missionnaire, working under the auspices of the Ministry of Social Affairs provides use of the center, medical care, food and some housing. Currently the organization is renting housing for approximately 20 seniors, but they are in the process of finishing the first of several houses on property that they own in the area of Ngoyo. When finished there will be free, secure housing for these men and women, with more to come as the organization can raise the money to continue building.  Every other Wednesday afternoon is our opportunity to join them. We are learning so much about their culture and history. We’re listening to genuine Congolese folk tales and learning African games and songs. We’re even dancing the ‘Hokey Pokey’! The Kituuba name “Baluuka” sounds much more melodious... (“You put your left foot in; you take your left foot out...”).  They’re competitive too!  You should see how fast they can run while playing ‘duck, duck, goose.’ And the men against the women in relay races... they are serious!!!
Last week Congo celebrated National Senior Day and Mercy Ministries were invited. There were about 300 seniors there, plus a crowd of government dignitaries, including the local mayor.  We ate fantastic local food and our team was presented with a gift of t-shirts commemorating the event.  Our Senior group performed a drama about a man who had been chased away from his family. He was traveling alone, tired, hungry and needing a place to rest.  He came to a village of older people where he was taken in.  One villager was jealous because food was given to the stranger instead of him.  The other villagers taught him a rather harsh lesson in hospitality... Our Mercy Ministries team was invited to dance the Baluuka with them... we may have started a national trend!
Mercy Ships Eye Team has visited the Senior Community Center as well. They’ve scheduled 23 surgeries for cataract removal and will visit them again to provide much needed reading glasses. Yesterday, one of the gentlemen told us that, “sometimes people come and just bring smoke;  Mercy Ships people came and brought the fire.”

But, they share with us so much more than we could possibly give them...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Congo Statistics

We know you all like statistics so here are the figures from Congo:
(click on photo's to enlarge)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Crew Focus - Physical Therapist

Most days you will find Courtney on the dock, working in the Rehab tent with our Orthopedic and Plastics patients. Courtney leads the Africa Mercy Rehab team—she and her crew are responsible for helping bring function back to patients’ lives using therapeutic methods like serial casting and creative exercises. Thanks to our physical and occupational therapists, function is restored to people who never thought they’d be able to write, or throw a ball, or walk normally. We thank God every day for Courtney and the Rehab Team!

Do you have a patient story or interaction that is special to you? 
In Guinea, we had a patient who was a street dancer who had been burned in a house fire.  He had surgery to release elbow and axilla (armpit) contractures.  He had been in outpatient therapy for a couple of weeks, and after a long day of stretching on treatment session, he was able to touch his face for the first time in over a year.  We got to celebrate his first time bringing food to his mouth in a long time by eating cookies!

What does the word “love” mean to you?
Love is the active choice of trying to do the best for someone else, even at a cost to yourself.

Friday, July 04, 2014

New Ship Contract Signed

Ok, I'm afraid we are a little behind in posting this, but incase you weren't aware we thought we'd post it anyway.

Last December it was announced that Mercy ships had reached an agreement with Asian and European shipbuilding firms to purpose build a new 36,600 GRT hospital ship for us.  The contracts were signed between Mr. Dong Qiang, VP of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), and Donald K. Stephens, President/ Founder of Mercy Ships, together with Jim Paterson, Senior VP of Mercy Ships Marine Operations.

The vessel will be built at the group’s Tianjin Xingang Shipyard where the shipyard’s Chairman, Mr. Gao Xuehu, and President, Mr. Hu Xiang, expressed excitement to be working on this unique project.
“This project will make this vessel the world’s largest civilian hospital ship, and delivery is being planned for July 2017," stated Mr. Gao Xuehu, Chairman of Tianjin Xingang Shipbuilding Heavy Industry, Ltd.
“We are thrilled to formally secure this important milestone for a project we have worked on quietly for quite some time,” said Stephens. “Our goal with this second Mercy Ship is to more than double the hope and healing through life-changing surgeries provided to those with little access to specialised healthcare and to increase the partnership, training and educational support of health professionals within the developing nations our ships will continue to serve.”

This agreement comes on the heels of the Mercy Ships story, recently highlighted by CBS on “60 Minutes” (http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/africa-mercy-hospital-of-hope-50141230/.

The 174-metre hospital ship will be designed by the Finnish firm Deltamarin. Stena RoRo will manage the actual project construction under the leadership of Per Westling, Managing Director.
The 157-year-old French ship brokerage company Barry Rogliano Salles (BRS) under the leadership of its Geneva (Switzerland) office Managing Director, Gilbert Walter, negotiated the successful contract and sale.
CSIC is one of China's largest shipbuilding and ship repair groups and operates directly under the China state government with authorisation for investment and capital management. The group has a total asset base of USD 27.54 billion and a workforce of 140,000. The group's 28 R&D institutes employ more than 30,000 engineers, has eight state-level laboratory centres, seven enterprise technology centres and 150 large-scale laboratories.
The new Mercy Ship will be classed by Lloyd's Register and flagged by Malta.