Mercy Ships Africa Blog
https://mercyships.africa/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/SLF230911_EMMANUEL_SLF08071_BEFORE_HOMEVISIT_EB001_HI-MID.jpg 1333 2000 shawnthompson https://mercyships.africa/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/mercy-ships-logo-menu-africa-300x138.png shawnthompson2023-09-18 19:36:262023-09-20 20:24:33Meet Emmanuel, the First Patient of the Sierra Leone Field Service
On Tuesday, September 12, Emmanuel was brought into one of the operating rooms of the Global Mercy™, where he became the very first patient to receive surgery during the field service in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The significance of this moment was not lost on him. Emmanuel, who had just celebrated his 43rd birthday a few days earlier, felt that the timing had turned his birthday month into something extraordinary. “It is a double portion of blessings,” he celebrated. A tumor on his neck began as a minor concern, a flicker of worry that he hoped would fade away with time.
https://mercyships.africa/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/SLF230830_HAWA_VISIT_GLM_TT045_HI_HI-MID.jpg 1333 2000 shawnthompson https://mercyships.africa/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/mercy-ships-logo-menu-africa-300x138.png shawnthompson2023-09-04 03:00:002023-09-08 17:13:15Passing on the Healing: Hawa’s Story of Life-Saving Surgery
There was much excitement on board the Global Mercy™ recently as a young woman named Hawa climbed up the gangway. Hawa, an aspiring nurse from Sierra Leone, had never set foot on this brand-new hospital ship. But she has walked this swaying path over the water before. Hawa boarded the first Mercy Ship, the Anastasis, as a small child, when a tumor was slowly encroaching on her ability to eat and breathe. It was there that her life was saved, and a new dream was born. This year, Hawa’s journey to hope and healing came full circle as she reunited with Mercy Ships once more.
https://mercyships.africa/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/SND230413_OR_CAMARA_TT003_HI-MID.jpg 1333 2000 shawnthompson https://mercyships.africa/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/mercy-ships-logo-menu-africa-300x138.png shawnthompson2023-09-01 03:00:002023-08-31 18:39:32Training that Saves Lives: Dr. Camara’s Story
As a young boy, Dr. Abraham Camara was puzzled when relatives, friends, and neighbors came to seek medical help from his father, a high school teacher. “He was the only person who had gone to university, and he worked for the government,” explained Dr. Camara. Thus, “they thought he would know a lot about healthcare.” His father embraced the responsibility. He recommended hospitals, raised funds for medical bills, made appointments with doctors, and took neighbors to treatments when he could. Watching his father in action planted seeds of empathy in Dr. Camara’s heart. A dream to go into medicine was born. Dr. Camara grew up to make that dream a reality. For the past 12 years, he has been training to become a specialized surgeon. This dream is rooted in the desire to become the ultimate champion of his patients: “I want to be in the best possible position to help.”
https://mercyships.africa/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/SLF230822_GLM_ARRIVAL_DOCK_CB002_HI-MID-1.jpg 1336 1631 shawnthompson https://mercyships.africa/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/mercy-ships-logo-menu-africa-300x138.png shawnthompson2023-08-25 14:31:532023-08-25 19:49:57The Global Mercy™ arrives in Freetown, Sierra Leone to Bring Safe Surgery and Education
On August 22, a long-awaited day of hope arrived as the Global Mercy™ sailed into the port of Freetown, Sierra Leone. It was a moment more than 30 years in the making. The start of this field service marks the next chapter in a three-decade partnership between Mercy Ships and Sierra Leone, meaning the floating hospital ship’s arrival wasn’t a greeting – it was a homecoming.
https://mercyships.africa/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/SNC220418_MARITIME_COLLEGE_STUDENT_BANGURA_JM012_HI-MID.jpg 1335 2000 shawnthompson https://mercyships.africa/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/mercy-ships-logo-menu-africa-300x138.png shawnthompson2023-08-17 03:00:002023-08-16 14:25:56Sierra Leonean Mercy Ships Volunteers Look Forward to Bringing the Global Mercy® Home
Ibrahim Bangura was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and he has family in the northern district of Kambia. Even as a native Sierra Leonean, though, he didn’t grasp the depth of medical need in his own nation until he joined Mercy Ships as a national crewmember. “I live in the country, but I’ve never seen people with such kind of sicknesses, with huge tumors,” he said. “People with cleft lips. … I've never seen that in my life.” Medical conditions often develop more severely in rural areas, where people have trouble getting to a hospital. In 2011, as Ibrahim began working with the Africa Mercy® in Freetown, he saw patients who had journeyed from all over the country to be treated. It was like nothing he had ever experienced. “This is where my journey started,” he said. “I got inspired.”
https://mercyships.africa/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/SLX230525_KPAKIWA_CB005_HI-MID.jpg 1336 2000 shawnthompson https://mercyships.africa/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/mercy-ships-logo-menu-africa-300x138.png shawnthompson2023-08-15 03:00:002023-08-14 16:06:13Sierra Leonean Mercy Ships Volunteer Gets Ready to Welcome the Global Mercy
When David Kpakiwa thinks about the surgical need in his home country of Sierra Leone, he gets emotional. It’s not just because he cares about his countrymen and women. It’s because for him, this issue hits close to home. “When I was a kid, my mom got sick and she needed surgery,” he said. “But in our community, they could not provide that.” David’s mother would have to leave their home in the Kono District to find treatment, but the travel was too expensive. David was young, but he carried a lot of responsibility as a provider for his family. He began supporting his family at the age of 8, working long hours on a farm to bring home money to his mother. “I spent a lot of time looking at my mom’s suffering,” he said. Although she was finally able to get the help she needed, David never forgot the experience. “The memories are there,” he said. “They’re fresh.” David’s family is not unique among Sierra Leoneans. There are fewer than three surgeons for every 100,000 people in the population, but those surgeons are distributed unequally across the country. That means surgical care is inaccessible to the majority of people. Estimates of the unmet surgical need in Sierra Leone reach as high as 91%. David’s mother was just one of those people who couldn’t access the care she desperately needed – leaving a lasting impact on those who loved her most. That’s why now, years later, as David prepares the way for the Global Mercy™ to arrive in Freetown, Sierra Leone, he takes his job personally.
https://mercyships.africa/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/SLX230528_CULTURAL_CITY_CB003_HI-MID.jpg 1336 2000 shawnthompson https://mercyships.africa/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/mercy-ships-logo-menu-africa-300x138.png shawnthompson2023-08-08 03:00:002023-08-07 16:27:34The Next Chapter: Igniting Hope and Multiplying Impact in Sierra Leone
Growing up on board the floating hospitals of Mercy Ships, Dr. Sandra Lako’s childhood was anything but normal. She was just a teenager when she first sailed into Sierra Leone and encountered a country that would define the course of her life. There, Sandra left the hospital ship to accompany a medical team as they set up a clinic in a village outside of Freetown, tending to a measles outbreak. Sandra spent the week sitting with mothers who were bringing their sick children for care. “Of course, I was a teenager, so not skilled to actually help medically, but I was able to help the moms who were giving their children fluids to rehydrate them,” remembers Sandra. “Sadly, a couple of children died that week. That really had an impact on me… Those experiences are really what determined my plans to go to medical school.” Sandra went on to study medicine in her home country of the Netherlands. Years later, she returned to Sierra Leone to help establish a Mercy Ships health facility in Freetown, providing obstetric fistula care for women with childbirth injuries as well as child health services. Eighteen years later, Sandra still calls Sierra Leone home.
https://mercyships.africa/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/SNC220822_COUMBA_SNC07210_BEFORE_PLASTICS_EB005_HI-MID.jpg 1333 2000 shawnthompson https://mercyships.africa/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/mercy-ships-logo-menu-africa-300x138.png shawnthompson2023-08-03 03:00:002023-08-02 20:03:35Healed After 27 Years: Coumba’s Journey
Coumba was at her family’s farm on the day that her life changed forever. “Our mother used to cook with fire,” she said. “It was a big farm, so my mother would start a fire in one place, then go to another. My little brother was playing by the fire, got too close, and started to burn.” At just 4 years old, Coumba rushed in to save her brother as the fire grew. “I fell on my left side, so I burned there,” Coumba said. “My brother was then crying a lot, which my mother heard, so she came to us, but I was already entirely burnt on my left side.” With her left arm fused in a bent position and her hand damaged, Coumba adjusted to life with only one functional arm and hand. She grew up to marry, work as a maid, and raise three children on their rice and vegetable farm in northern Senegal. Coumba longed to take care of the farm herself, like many other women do in Senegal, but her limited range of motion made this dream impossible. After decades of living with a bent arm, surgery on the Africa Mercy® meant that at the age of 31, Coumba’s life was about to change.
https://mercyships.africa/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/Catherine-Conteh.00_00_06_19.Still004-MID.jpg 1125 2000 shawnthompson https://mercyships.africa/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/mercy-ships-logo-menu-africa-300x138.png shawnthompson2023-08-01 03:00:002023-08-01 13:33:28From the Brink of Death to New Life: How One Act of Kindness Changed Everything
For Catherine Conteh, there’s a moment from the birth of her daughter that still plays over and over in her mind, 30 years later. She had been lying in her hospital bed in Sierra Leone, in labor, writhing in untreated pain, for four days straight. The doctors told her that due to complications with her labor, she needed a Caesarean section surgery – one that 18-year-old Catherine and her husband, Augustine, couldn’t afford. Without payment up front, she would not be given the surgery.