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Friday, September 20, 2013

Mercy Ships bring hope and healing home

These past 35 past years, Mercy Ships crews, made of health-care professionals in anesthesiology, orthopedic and reconstructive surgery, midwifery and eye surgery, have performed numerous acts of mercy. This is the case of Abel, a boy from Togo, whose normal childhood turned upside down after an injection. The Republic of Togo is a country located in West Africa. 

Mercy Ships official logo (Photo: Wikipedia)


As reported in an online Mercy Ships story, Abel's parents noticed he was having difficulty learning to crawl. Abel's muscles stopped growing but not his bones ; his legs failed to grow correctly due to the lack of musculature to direct them. His parents approached three doctors who were unable to help them. 

Even though Abel's physical deformity made him the center of ridicule among his peer, Abel and his supportive parents remained positive. When Abel's father heard about the arrival of Mercy Ship in Togo, he took his son to an orthopedic screening in Lomè. Three surgeries and three months later, Abel and his father, accompanied by a Mercy Ships team returned home to the village of Homa in an Mercy Ships Land Rover. Abel, now standing on his two straightened legs, was welcomed disbelieving stares, and cheers.

Bringing hope and healing to the word's forgetten poor by mobilizing people and resources worldwide, without regard for race, gender, or religion. This is the mission of Mercy Ships, an international faith-based organization operating hospital ships to provide free health-care services, capacity building and sustainable development to the one without access in the developing world.

Mercy Ships is now a well-established charity with offices in 16 nations. However, Mercy Ships' existence was born out of Don Stephens' dream who had envisionned “a big, white, state-of-the-art hospital ship that delivers hope and healing to people around the globe living in dire circumstances.” In 1978, the first ship Anastasis was purchased, making his dream a reality.

“We are shocked and distressed when we see the devastation and number of lives lost in natural disaster. But there's a tsunami of deaths in West Africa every day. People live in fear, hopelessness and desesperation,” Mercy Ships President and founder Don Stephens said in an online statement.
Don and his wife Deyon along with their four children lived on board on the first Mercy Ship for 10 years. The organization is primarily founded through private donations. Volunteers who serve on the ships and field also contribute through monthly fees. Africa Mercy, the largest of the four hospital ships operated by the organization, was purchased in 2007.
A Mercy Ships screening in West Africa (Photo: mercyships.es)
“I was not only deeply impressed, but also touched by the care Mercy Ships is giving these poor people and how well [Mercy Ships teams] are organized. I am touched by the hope and courage given to those you are serving,” Joseph Blatter, President of FIFA, recently said during a personal visit to Africa Mercy then-located in the Republic of Guinea. The Republic of Guinea is a country located in West Africa. FIFA is the international governing body of association football.
According to Mercy Ships, nearly 50 percent of the people have no access to a hospital or a doctor. Therefore, medical care is an actual luxury to millions. The organization reports to have more performed more than 61-000 life-changing operations such as cleft lip and palate repair, cataract removal, orthopedic procedures, facial reconstruction and obstetric fistual repair. 
Mercy Ships medical crews have treated 539,000 patients in village clinics, with over 109,000 dental patients with more than 278, 000 dental procedures performed. The teams also trained more than 5,770 local health-care teachers who have trained others and 29, 400 local professionals in their area of expertise. The story of the Togolese boy Abel is one of the thousand lives changed forever by Mercy Ships crews, one surgery at the time.
This article was originally written for Seeds of Hope Publishers