Africa; a legacy of service

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Earlier this year, in a new partnership developed to better share our resources to serve communities and individuals in Africa. Mercy Ships and CURE International announced a plan to send veteran Mercy Ships volunteers to serve on the ground in CURE hospitals across Africa. As a Christian non-profit organisation, CURE International operates a global network of paediatric surgical hospitals and shares our vision for providing expanded specialised surgical care to children with disabilities in Africa.

By sharing our resources with CURE International, we will expand our ability to offer treatment to vulnerable children in African countries that lack the medical infrastructure and safe surgical care they need. As we partner with CURE International, both of our organizations will be better positioned to provide transformative care to patients who can’t afford to wait any longer.

Our collaboration involves sending several long-time Mercy Ships volunteers to serve at various CURE hospitals across the continent. One of these is Dr Tertius Venter, serving at CURE Niger Hospital as part of Mercy Ships collaboration with CURE International

From a hospital ship to a land-based hospital

Aliou, plastics patient, having his dressing changed by Plastic Surgeon, Tertius Venter.

Dr Tertius, a South African plastic reconstructive surgeon, has been volunteering with Mercy Ships since 2000. He typically serves onboard for periods of two months, twice a year.  As part of our collaboration, Dr. Tertius spent five weeks serving a CURE hospital in land-locked Niger.

The CURE Children’s Hospital of Niger is the only hospital of its kind in the country. It offers specialty surgical care for children living with physical disabilities, such as clubfoot, cleft lips and palates, burn contractures, and other limiting conditions. The hospital typically treats more than 3,200 patients each year.

As a CURE volunteer, Dr Tertius spent his time performing reconstructive plastic surgery on children as well as assisting with the mentoring and training of surgeons. Like his experience onboard our hospital ships, Dr Tertius’ surgical specialty typically sees him operating on children who suffer from contracted skin and limited mobility due to severe burns.

“I’m very impressed with the organization and level of care that CURE brings to their patients,” said Dr Tertius. “I am grateful to God, Mercy Ships, and CURE for the opportunity to continue to serve God’s heart by serving the poor even under these unprecedented COVID pandemic circumstances. I’m blessed that I can pursue my call and reach out to those in need.”

Dr Tertius plans to return to the Africa Mercy once the ship returns to Senegal.

 A Legacy of Service

Dr. Tertius is no stranger to volunteering his surgical skills to benefit causes he believes in. Beyond spending months every year operating onboard a Mercy Ship, he is also committed to regular service with the Pan Africa Academy for Christian Surgeons (PAACS) and Operation Smile, a non-profit focused on repairing cleft lips and palates. The opportunity to use his time and talent to help patients who couldn’t otherwise access care has guided his life for decades: “I used to work in both government and private hospitals in South Africa. For private hospital surgeries I would always have to think about what I would be charging my patients, and then I would have to send them the bill. When I came to the ship, the knowledge that I was able to treat patients, purely because I wanted to help them, and without thinking about money, was the most freeing feeling I’ve known.”

The recent collaboration with CURE International was just another way to fulfil his calling to provide a vital medical service in under-resourced countries. Thank you, Dr Tertius, for your heart to serve!