Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mercy Ships Connections

Watch this Mercy Ships Connections video to see more of what has been happening over the last few weeks.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Our Arrival in Pictures

It's hard to believe we have been here for almost a month already. Click here to see our arrival in pictures. Thanks to the Mercy Ships Marketing Team for creating this video!

Friday, March 11, 2011

More about screening day

There are so many emotions attached to the Monday's events. I was there but not really. Those of us assisting potential patients inside were unaware of what was taking place outside the gate. We kept hearing that the crowd outside was massive. We had no idea. Please read the events that transpired on Monday from Deb, a nurse and friend who experienced it first hand.

Screening Day

The statement released by Mercy Ships explains the events at screening day on Monday, 7 March. This day usually filled with hope ended sadly.

Mercy Ships is deeply saddened by the tragic events that occurred today during medical screening at the Freetown National Stadium when a crowd stormed the gate resulting in several injuries and one life lost.

Mercy Ships personnel working at the site attended the injured and accompanied them to local hospitals.

"Our hearts and prayers are with the individuals and families of those affected by today's events. The occurrence of this incident in the course of activities intended to restore lives is tragic. We move forward with tremendous sadness, but great determination, to assist as many people as possible in the next ten months," stated Mercy Ships Founder, Don Stephens.

Mercy Ships exists to serve the forgotten poor and has served Sierra Leone five times over the past two decades, also helping establish two land-based health care facilities. For the next ten months, Mercy Ships will be providing surgeries for qualified patients while working alongside the Sierra Leonean Government to support its five-year healthcare plan and strengthen the functions of the national health system.

Revisiting Joseph Fofanah

Looking very sharp in his Boy Scout uniform, nine-year-old Joseph Fofanah stepped up to accept his country's flag. Then he marched crisply to place it in the stand, saluted, and retreated smartly. It was appropriate that this young man participated in the ceremony to welcome the arrival of the Africa Mercy in Sierra Leone.

Former patient Joseph Fofanah presents the flag at arrival ceremonies in Sierra Leone.

Mercy Ships played a very important role in Joseph's life. He was born with a cleft palate and cleft lip. “He was having a problem,” said his mother, Isatu. “Any liquid we fed him would come back out his nose.”

This serious birth defect negatively impacts the lives of many African children. Fortunately, Isatu realized that her son needed a medical procedure to repair the cleft. However, the cost of the surgery was more than she and her husband could afford. “But the pastor and the doctor who delivered Joseph told me not to worry,” said Isatu. “A Mercy Ship is just on the way.”

Joseph had his first surgery in 2002, when he was almost four month s old, and he received a second surgery the following year. He has no memory of his problem or of his Mercy Ships experiences, but the success of these procedures is evident in his brilliant smile.

Dr. Gary Parker greets Joseph Fofanah, one of his former patients, when he returned to participate in arrival ceremonies at Sierra Leone.

Today, Joseph is a happy, active fourth-grader. His favorite subject is mathematics, which may have something to do with his ambition to be a banker one day. An avid football (soccer) enthusiast, he is the goalie on his school team, and enjoys playing w ith his younger brother, Joshua.

Scouting is very popular in Sierra Leone, and Joseph is a five-year member of Boy Scout Team 3. “I really love to march,”he says, and he's looking forward to camping with his troop.

When asked what he thought about being onboard the Africa Mercy , he grinned and exclaimed, “I'm excited, and I really want to stay here!”

Story by Elaine B. Winn
Edited by Nancy Predaina