Long story short: a man had a dream to one day have a fleet of hospital ships that provide free surgeries to the poorest nations in the world. Today Mercy Ships has already served millions and is set to serve even more.
Construction on a $100 million second ship has already begun and is schedule to be completed in 2018. Once it's done, that ship will like serve southeast Africa (i.e., Madagascar, Tanzania, Mozambique) and the Africa Mercy will return to service in West Africa.
I had the opportunity to tour the Mercy Ship back in December with my friend who is a chaplain aboard the ship. Here's the most amazing thing he told me:
Not only is everyone on the ship a volunteer--from the shipdrivers, to the cooks, to the cleaners, to the school teachers, to the nurses, to the surgeons--but everyone is also PAYING to be on the ship.
That's right, everyone pays a fee for room and board! It's an amazing operation to see first hand the floating hospital and all the crew on board. There's all sorts of volunteer opportunities, some people come aboard for a few weeks and some for a few years.
The book also discusses the specific types of surgeries that Mercy Ships does: maxillofacial surgery, plastic surgery, orthopedic surgery eye surgery, and VVF repair (I had no clue what this last one even was or just how widespread this problem is in impoverished countries--just click, so sad).
Some of the most heartening surgeries, of course, are the ones where huge tumors or deformities are removed. Stephens hits the nail on the head as he describes the plight of these patients prior to Mercy Ships: "They become a nonperson, hiding in the bush, shunned, literally waiting to die." Sambany (in the picture below) from Madagascar is a great example of one of those people who had the entire trajectory of their his life changed by Mercy Ships.
I will end my review with the best part yet--construction has begun on another Mercy Ship--it's scheduled to be completed in 2018. It's not finalized yet, but this boat will focus on Eastern Africa, particularly, Madagascar, Mozambique and Tanzania! Yes, that means Mercy Ships will be return to Madagascar time and time again over the coming decades!
|Little kiddos getting taken out for daily therapy|
|A Starbucks Cafe|
|Mercy Ships was originally a Danish Railway Ship|