She had an opportunity to tour the Anastasis and she thought, “this would be a really cool place to work. One day I would love to work here.”
Still needing to finish her schooling and gain some experience Dr. Michelle put the idea of joining the ship on the back burner. However, she never stopped praying for Mercy Ships over the next 15 years. Finally her opportunity came in 2005 and quickly she realized this was an organization God was calling her to serve sooner rather than later.
After completing her On-Boarding Training in 2012, Dr. Michelle joined the Africa Mercy first as an anesthesiologist, then as the anesthesiology supervisor and currently serves as the medical capacity building director and assistant chief medical officer.
In her time on board Dr. Michelle has helped pioneer the way for surgeries to happen in a safer way then they previously were in the countries we visit.
“I think the end goal is to work ourselves out of a job (with these capacity building programs),” shared Dr. Michelle. “Often time people are protective of their area and we’re trying to get away from that.”
“My personal dream would be that there wouldn’t be a country in Africa that doesn’t have a pediatric anesthesia service that could support the surgeons doing the surgery.”
Dr. Michelle plays a vital role onboard the Africa Mercy and we are so grateful for her service!
Her mother, Charlotte, came to Mercy Ships to ask for help in restoring her daughter. As a single mother, she could no longer afford to provide the medical care her daughter urgently needed.
Mercy Ship donors and volunteers renewed Elina and Charlotte’s hope for the future by offering her access to immediate medical care as well as a free surgery to restore Elina’s mobility in her neck and arm!
This has given Elina more time to focus on making friends and just being six. Elina’s mama now has new hope for her daughter’s future!
Heading into the last week of surgeries, already 60 children have received complex plastic surgeries. Many of these procedures restored joint function for patients whose limbs or neck had been frozen by burn scaring.
It is a great joy to see children who arrived fearful and in pain, now rushing around the wards giggling and playing. Thanks to donors and volunteers working together, children like Elina have bright futures to look forward to!
The HOPE (Hospital Out Patient Extension) Center is the Mercy Ships facility where we care for our patients before and after surgery. This allows the hospital to conduct more life changing surgeries by freeing up bed spaces. The patients and their caregivers stay at the HOPE Center while continuing to receive out-patient care and physical therapy back at the ship.
At the HOPE Center we have Day Crew teams that clean the facility, serve the food, and transport the patients to and from the ship along with many other duties.
One day while the Facilitators and I played Dominoes with the patients, we had a conversation with one of the plastic patients, a young man from Mahajanga.
He told us that he was studying tourism at the university, but because of his long stay at the HOPE Center receiving therapy after surgery, he missed his practicum and final exams. He spoke good English and said that he would love to work for Mercy Ships as Day Crew at the HOPE Center.
We had an open position so we interviewed him and a week later he joined the team. Since he was from Mahajanga, he didn’t have a place to stay but two of the HOPE Center Day Crew graciously offered for him to move in with them.
He not only received hope and healing from his surgery, but he received a new job too. Meet Dominique, once a patient, now serving Mercy Ships and the people of Madagascar.
*After the Africa Mercy departs, Dominique will return to the university to finish his studies.
Story by Martha Rodriguez, HOPE Center Manager
From our volunteers to our donors to our national office staff and board members, each individual plays an important role in making sure Mercy Ships stays afloat and is able to continue to provide free life changing health care to those in need.
Mercy Ships Canada board member Dr. Sherif Emil recently spoke with CBC about his upcoming visit to Tamatave, Madagascar where he will join the Africa Mercy’s crew and work in the Operating Room for three weeks.
Listen to the interview below
To learn more about Dr. Emil’s work and involvement in Montreal watch “A Week in the Life of Dr. Sherif Emil at The Montreal Children’s Hospital”
Four-year-old Jean sits quietly outside his home. He takes in the sights and sounds of the village children playing football. He watches as the kids excitedly cheer for the goal that has just been scored. And he yearns for the day that he can take part in the games.
Sadly, Jean is never invited to play. He suffers from a condition known as bowed legs – an orthopedic defect that makes his legs O-shaped. Normal, everyday childhood activities such as running, climbing stairs and jumping are very difficult.
Jean is often found alone playing a small keyboard – a gift his father, Theodore, purchased in a local market to ease his son’s isolation. Jean instantly took a liking to the instrument and spends hours making the best music he can. To his parents, Jean’s music is beautiful … like that of a classically trained composer.
Jean’s father is a farmer, and his main crops are the African staple, cassava, and rice. He was able to afford a small keyboard, but the cost of fixing Jean’s legs is far more than he makes in a single year. The family lives in an isolated region of Madagascar, ideal for farming, but where constant rains repeatedly wash out the roads, isolating the village from more developed areas where medical care is more accessible.
The situation appeared to be hopeless until Jean’s family heard the announcement that gave them a reason to hope once again. Mercy Ships was offering a free screening in their community. Jean could be evaluated for a free orthopedic surgery!
Many villagers weren’t sure whether to believe that the surgeries were really being offered for free, but Theodore immediately embraced hope. He said, “If it is on the national radio, it must be true. They wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true.”
So, Theodore took Jean to the screening, and they received a yellow patient card – Jean’s ticket to the Africa Mercy and his only hope for straight legs. Onboard the Africa Mercy, Dr. Frank Haydon, a volunteer orthopedic surgeon from the United States, evaluated Jean and approved him for surgery. Six weeks after surgery, the little boy’s casts were removed, and he walked for the first time on his straightened legs.
Jean spent three months onboard the Africa Mercy and in the Mercy Ships HOPE Center, where patients recover after their surgeries. For the first time in his life, other kids wanted to play with him. The compassion and mercy of the all-volunteer crew made a lasting impression on Theodore, who has struggled with how to raise a son with physical limitations. “It has not been easy up until now, but we have been shown a lot of kindness here,” he said.
Now Theodore looks forward to returning home and watching Jean play football. And he will also encourage his son to share kindness with others just as they’ve been shown kindness. Along with new possibilities for the future, Theodore imagines that music will continue to be a part of Jean’s future … just as his experience onboard the hospital ship will always be a major part of his story.
Story by Tanya Sierra