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MERCY SHIPS SIERRA LEONE – THIRD DAY ON BOARD OF GLOBAL MERCY

The day began with a meeting with Clementine, an African woman who had previously volunteered on the Africa Mercy and who created a group on the ship dedicated to providing moral and spiritual support to patients.

She took us to the orthopaedic ward, where we prayed and talked together. It was a deeply moving moment.

Clementine reminded the children and their parents that each one of them was special, emphasising the importance of each individual to Mercy Ships. She went on to explain that their ability to receive such comprehensive care and treatment is made possible by the generosity of countless individuals whose donations support them from afar.

They thanked us, prayed for us and then sang and danced for us. But we felt it was us who should have thanked them for giving us this eye-opening opportunity to be reminded of our privilege to access medical care and resources.

The expressions on these children’s faces will stay with us long after we leave this ship, reminding us that together we can do more to help them.

Marion, a Swiss volunteer who spends an average of twelve hours a day at the Hope Centre, gave us a tour of the hospital.

The centre, with its twenty or so bunk beds, is highly structured and organised, though totally different from the hospital on the ship.

The children have to be fed properly before they can have an operation, and Marion makes sure that they eat, as some of them may not consume their food in order to sell it later.

Poverty is so widespread in this country that it is hard for us to just imagine it.

We spent time in the courtyard playing with children with severe physical deformities, such as bowed legs. To think that Mercy Ships will soon be giving them a second chance at life is incredibly heartening.

Following our visit to the Hope Centre, we met an endocrinologist surgeon who had made a 24-hour journey to reach the Global Mercy ship. Having previously served on the Africa Mercy, he gave us an insight into the Mercy Ships organisation, from screening patients to preparing them for surgery. He said he felt privileged to serve Mercy Ships.

He told us he sees some forty patients a day, including two or three with serious conditions, some of them regulars. Unfortunately, they cannot operate on malignant tumours, as it would be impossible for them to offer the necessary post-operative care and treatment.

It was poignant to witness his emotion as he told us that his mission was coming to an end and that he would soon be returning to work in the USA. However, he assured us he is coming back.

Like the previous days, this third day left an indelible mark on everyone’s lives.

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