To our faithful partners,
It is with great gratitude that I reach out to you at this special time of year. 2017 has been a spectacular year for Mercy Ships Canada, and we truly could not have done it without you.
2017 began in Benin, West Africa, a severely underdeveloped country where healthcare remains largely unavailable or unaffordable.
Thanks to your support, we provided a total of 1,957 surgeries in Benin before moving on to our next port of Douala, Cameroon in September this year, where we are currently working to provide over 3000 surgeries to people in desperate need.
Our preparation for our 2017/2018 field service in Cameroon saw some amazing developments. Canadians came together to support our biggest project ever – the Cameroon Hospital Out Patient, or HOPE Centre
This was the biggest project we have ever undertaken at the Canadian office, and it was a huge success. We raised a total of $1,303,780 to build the HOPE Centre that is now providing a place for patients and their families to receive treatment and recover from surgery this field service. It will also continue to benefit the community as valuable medical infrastructure for years to come. To everyone that helped make this dream come true, I offer my sincerest thanks for your support.
Now, the Hope Centre and the Africa Mercy are fully operational in Douala, Cameroon, and lives are being transformed every day. The support we receive from caring Canadians is so inspiring, and it fills my heart with joy that I am blessed to know such an amazing community that understands the impact and importance of helping those in need around the world.
As the year comes to a close, we look ahead to 2018, where we will continue our service in Cameroon before moving on to Guinea. This is the time of year that I must also ask for your help.
The month of December is most important of the giving year when we raise a majority of our annual funds. These funds are important because they allow us to plan for the year ahead in the most efficient and effective way possible. Without donors who step up in the month of December to give what they can, big projects like the HOPE Centre are simply not possible. Giving at this time is important as it allows us to maximize your funding and its benefits to people in desperate need.
To help us in this critical time, we have been blessed by an anonymous donor who is matching donations from now until December 31st up 10 $100,000 I humbly ask that you give today so we can plan and maximize our resources for the year ahead.
Thank you once again for partnering with us as we work towards bringing hope and healing to the world’s poorest nations. Together, you and Mercy Ships have made a real difference in 2017. My heart is filled with hope when I think of the possibilities for the year ahead.
As always, I remain ever grateful,
Posted on December 6, 2017 / Press
Volunteer surgeons on world’s largest private hospital ship reach milestone this week, celebrated on International Volunteer Day
Cameroon, Africa, December 5, 2017 — This International Volunteer Day marks two incredible milestones onboard the floating hospital ship the Africa Mercy, currently docked in Cameroon. Volunteer ophthalmic surgeon from Tyler, Texas Dr. Glenn Strauss performed the 30,000th surgery on the ship — ten years after performing the very first surgery onboard the Africa Mercy in 2007. Mercy Ships, founded in 1978, has worked tirelessly to combat the global surgery crisis of 5 billion people without access to safe surgery.
“I could never have imagined when I did that first operation on the AFM in 2007, that now, 10 years later, I’d be doing the 30,000th case. Not only that, but I’ve been privileged to train 47 ophthalmic surgeons who will provide tens of thousands more safe cataract surgeries in Africa and around the world,” said Strauss.
Dr. Strauss’ main goal has been to train ophthalmic surgeons as well as to provide the surgeries himself. He teaches the revolutionary MSICS cataract technique (manual small-incision cataract surgery) which is a low-cost, small-incision form of extracapsular cataract extraction and is more easily multiplied in developing world settings.
“These milestones are the epitome of what Mercy Ships strives to do, and Dr. Strauss is truly the image of our volunteers, all of whom are dedicated and caring individuals who change lives every day, thousands of times over,” commented Don Stephens, President and Founder of Mercy Ships.
Since deployment 10 years ago, the Africa Mercy has docked in nine African countries for a total of 12 field services. The surgical specialties offered in the ship’s state-of-the-art operating theaters include maxillofacial, plastic reconstructive, women’s health – including obstetric fistula, pediatric orthopaedics, general, and ophthalmic (adult and pediatric). In addition to providing surgeries, the volunteers on the Mercy Ship also provided medical capacity building training courses attended by more than 7,800 African healthcare professionals. By providing training for the healthcare professionals, Mercy Ships surgeons help to ensure that partner healthcare providers will be better equipped to care for their country and provide safer surgeries in Africa after the ship leaves.
ABOUT MERCY SHIPS:
Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services, capacity building and sustainable development to those with little access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1.3 billion, treating more than 2.56 million direct beneficiaries. The Africa Mercy is crewed by 400 volunteers from up to 40 nations, an average of 1000 each year. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. With offices in 16 nations, Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. For more information click on www.mercyships.org
For More Information Contact:
For Canada: JoJo Beattie
Canadian Public Relations Coordinator
Mercy Ships Canada
Office Tel: (250) 381-2160
For USA: Pauline Rick
US Public Relations Coordinator
Office Tel: (903) 939-7000
Mob: (972) 922-5442
For Int’l: Diane Rickard
International Media Manager
Hi-res photos and general Mercy Ships B-Roll video footage are available upon request.
ABOUT INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER DAY:
International Volunteer Day (IVD) mandated by the UN General Assembly, is held each year on 5 December. It is viewed as a unique chance for volunteers and organizations to celebrate their efforts, to share their values, and to promote their work among their communities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), United Nations agencies, government authorities and the private sector.
You can hear Christina’s contagious laugh from across the room and instinctively know that she’s a woman who never lets circumstances rob her of joy. But, her smile is interrupted by a facial tumor that has been slowly growing for over 30 years, with no hope of being removed.
Christina first noticed the tumor, which was then just a small growth on her left cheek, when she was only 23 years old. She was a young bride, raising a family with her whole future ahead of her. The tumor was painful, but surgery to remove it was not an option. She and her husband, Emmanuel, worked as farmers—their maize, yam and beans put food on the table, but didn’t provide enough money to cover hospital expenses. All Christina could do was take medicine to ease the pain, and resign herself to the reality that this would always be a part of her life.
As Christina’s children grew, so did her tumor, eventually stretching from her ear to her jaw. But, her exuberant spirit and love for those around her never faded. When asked about her positivity she simply said, “The spirit of God is touching me, giving me peace.”
When she first heard of Mercy Ships, she couldn’t believe her ears—a ship with surgeons that would remove her tumor for free? Her children barely saw her without it in the last three decades, let alone her grandchildren. She knew she had to take the chance. Leaving her family behind, she traveled to the ship in hopes of receiving surgery on board. Even when her appointments were postponed, Christina waited patiently, peacefully, with a twinkle in her eye. Change was coming. She just had to hold on.
Finally, her surgery date came. After several hours in the operating room, the tumor was gone! “Look at me!” she said after the operation, turning her face so you could see the graceful slope of her neck, now tumor-free. “My family will not believe it.”
Her bubbly laugh and genuine interest in those around her made Christina a favorite to patients and crew alike on the Africa Mercy. And after her surgery, she returned home without the burden she’d carried for 30 years, and with a new hope for the future.
Story by: Rose Talbot
Edited by: Karis Johnson
Photographer: Shawn Thompson