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Monday, February 09, 2015

Where Are Our Patients Coming From

I've always thought of Madagascar as a little island off the coast of the Southern tip of Africa - but when you are here you discover how big this country is.  It takes around 8 hours just to travel by road to the capital city.
Comparison of size to UK!
Over the last few months Mercy Ships has been carrying out screenings around the country.  In December a team headed up to the capital city of Antananarivo where they saw many patients in need.  Some of them began arriving here at the end of December.  They met many patients with powerful stories, including a VVF patient who walked for 5 days and then rode a taxi-brousse for 2 days to reach the screening site with the hope that Mercy Ships could help.  Another who's father summed up best what a new lip would mean for his 11 year old son who faces constant ridicule because of his cleft lip: "My family doesn't speak to me or my son.  No one wants to have anything to do with us.  If you can do this surgery for us, it will change our lives."
This was followed by another screening by the Mercy Vision Eye team.  We are discovering that the Malagasy have very good eyes so the team have had to go further afield to find suitable candidates for surgery.
Our surgical screening continued on in Toliara which is the capital of the large Atsimo-Andrefana region, one of the poorest in the country.  The region has a total estimated population of 1,018,500 (2004).  Then this past week in Mahajanga, in the North West to the Boeny region partnering with MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) to help fly them there.

This has made travelling for patients a little harder than previous countries so through the work of crew members, funds have been secured from various local businesses and cell phone fundraisers to pay for all their travel to and from the ship, whether by road or air.
Here is a map to show where they are coming from (this was calculated before the Toliara and Mahajanga screenings) :

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