Sao, Liberia 2007
40 STORIES OF HEALING: Sao
The Africa Mercy crew had spent 7 years in shipyard converting the Danish ferry into a hospital ship. Every day they were conscious of preparing this vessel of mercy for the patients to come. They prayed and worked toward the day of the first surgery.
“It was 2007, and I remember sitting in our cabin having breakfast with my family when we saw Sao being carefully guided up the ship’s steep gangway,” reflects Graeme, the Africa Mercy Operations Director at the time.
“Sao could hardly see in front of her due to dense cataracts that clouded her eyes. My wife, children and I prayed for her cataract operation right then, as she bravely made her way on board. We knew she would be the very first patient to receive surgery on this hospital ship.”
I couldn’t believe this day had finally arrived.
Later the same day I was sitting in my office, which also overlooked the gangway. I heard a commotion, and when I looked to see what was going on, I saw Sao carefully going DOWN the gangway. It was evident that she could see one step in front of the other – Sao’s sight had been restored!
I knew Sao’s latter years would be completely transformed – she could see her grandchildren, she could go back to her role helping in her community, she was no longer dependent upon people guiding her.
It was just one working day for me, but those few short hours brought a transformation in Sao’s life and sunset years.
I felt a deep sense of accomplishment and gratitude to God. It had been a lot of years of overcoming challenges with faith, and this incredible day had finally arrived – for Sao, and for us!”
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With 12 anaesthestists serving Guinea, West Africa’s 13 million people, a partnership to help strengthen local anaesthesia capacity was a logical step for Mercy Ships.
Rafael, Mexico 1987
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Dr Juliette Tuakli explains why access to safe, timely, and affordable surgery is crucial for achieving ‘Health for All’ in Africa.
The false dichotomy of relief and development
Dr Mark Shrime advocates for a dual approach in strengthening surgical systems. With 2/3 of the world lacking access to surgical care, the complexity of the issue is highlighted, emphasizing the need for transformative change, partnership, and balanced efforts between relief and development.
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