Do you remember what it’s like to be a child with a wish? Waking up on Christmas morning is a joyous occasion for many kids in Canada, but sadly there are many children around the world have never known the joy of a Christmas wish coming true.
In Madagascar, children like Cindy don’t have the luxury of wishing for toys – all Cindy wants is for her feet to be fixed, so she can walk properly and go to school. But Cindy’s father can’t afford the surgery she so desperately needs.
This year instead of giving Christmas gifts to friends and family, you can grant the wishes of children like Cindy by giving to the Mercy Ships Wish List!
By giving to the Wish List you can grant the wishes of patients like Cindy who are hoping to receive care on the Africa Mercy. A gift card will be sent to your loved one to note the extraordinary gift you have made in their honor, and your donation will be doubled to have twice the impact!
You can bring true joy by granting the wish of children in need this year. What better gift is there?
After careful consideration, the Executive Committee of the Mercy Ships International Board has approved the deployment of the Africa Mercy to the nation of Benin for the August 2016 – June 2017 field service.
The Africa Mercy was previously scheduled to dock in Benin in 2014, but had to redeploy due to the Ebola outbreak in the region of West Africa. Following the past two years of service in Madagascar, the decision to return to West Africa was taken with great care and deliberation even though Benin was not affected.
During the past several months a number of West African countries have been declared Ebola free. In the coming months, Mercy Ships will continue to carefully monitor these encouraging developments, study and make the necessary preparations for this field service.
Benin is considered one of the most stable and safest countries in the region, with a history of peaceful transitions between governments through democratic elections, and a progressive government striving to modernise the country and eradicate poverty.
Despite the stability of both the country and its economic growth, it is still considered one of the poorest nations in the world, ranking at 165 out of 187 countries according to the United Nations Human Development Index in 2013. Benin welcomes support to improve the country’s health system. (1)
Donovan Palmer, Group Managing Director for Mercy Ships, reports, “Since our last visit to Benin, the Mercy Ships programmatic model has expanded. Capacity-building projects are now possible on a scale which did not exist previously. Coupled with the opportunity to build on projects from the past, we believe Mercy Ships efforts have the potential to catalyze change in Benin in ways not possible before now.”
The Africa Mercy last visited Benin in 2009. Previous to that time, Mercy Ships have also docked in Cotonou in 2004, 2001, and first served in the nation in 1997.
Neny and Somaya were safe, but they lost every one of their belongings. The precious Mercy Ships appointment card was burned, and Neny thought they had lost the chance for Somaya to receive the free surgery she needed.
Neny was about to abandon all hope when she heard that the Mercy Ship was returning to Madagascar for a second season of service. In October she took Somaya to another screening near her village, and sure enough they were given another appointment for surgery.
It was the second chance for her little girl that Neny had prayed for!
Cleft palates are repaired through surgery but the journey for patients does not end with surgery. Weeks of speech therapy take place to teach patients how to adapt to their new palates. Jillian Davis, Africa Mercy’s dietician and infant feeding coordinator explains the importance of speech therapy:
“Someone with unrepaired cleft palate has an opening between the mouth and nasal cavity making speech difficult. It is my role to work with these patients after surgery teaching them different oral motor, airflow and sound exercises. It is my goal that they will be able to pronounce sounds and words better and that other people will be able to understand their speech better in conversation.”
We hope little one’s like Somaya will continue to heal and one day be able to speak every word with ease!
There’s BlackFriday and CyberMonday, but do you know about GivingTuesday?
Held on December 1st #GivingTuesdayCA is a new Canadian movement for giving and volunteering, taking place each year after Cyber Monday. The “Opening day of the giving season,” it is a day where charities, companies and individuals join together to share commitments, rally for favourite causes and think about others.
What is Mercy Ships Canada doing this year?
Mercy Ships volunteers make a lifestyle out of giving and over four days we are going to introduce you to some of our Canadian and international volunteers and describe what they do. Who knows, they could end up being your neighbour!
Starting on Black Friday and leading up to #GivingTuesdayCA our social media accounts will be filled with stories of volunteers giving back, with a special announcement being made on December 1st (GivingTuesdayCA)!
How can you get involved?
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and help us share the story of our volunteers and friends with your online community! Sharing is a great way you can give back, because the more Canadians know about Mercy Ships, the more people we can help and the more lives we can change.
He studied diplomacy and public relations and says it was expected in his culture to return home, find a good paying job and care for his family.
However, Femi had a curiosity about missions and pursued training at a Disciple Training School through Youth With A Mission in Ghana.
There he met many Mercy Shippers who were committing to Mercy Ships long-term. They shared about Mercy Ships mission of bringing hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor.
“It was hard for me to picture a ship, treating people but I began to look into it. I went on the internet and I looked at pictures of patients before and after and they were almost unbelievable for me. I couldn’t believe it was true.”
Femi decided to join the ship in Benin in 2009 as day crew and after serving two field services as day crew he decided that he was being called to the ship full time. He served for 15 months as a receptionist before moving to the deck department.
“I had no knowledge of what the maritime industry is like, I knew almost nothing about sea faring.”
Two years later and Femi has climbed the ranks from deckhand to deck rating working towards an able seafarer license and will soon be able to apply for an officer of the watch license. Femi has had the benefit of training sponsored by Mercy Ships, which he can use internationally should he decide to pursue a career as a sailor.
“The good thing about working in the deck department is that there is opportunity to learn every day. Just when you think you know it all there is still an opportunity to learn.”
According to Femi, it is the drive to excellence that sets Mercy Ships apart from other organizations.
“I see excellence in all that we say and do. People’s motivation and creativity is normally tied to the income they get and here is a place where you serve without being paid yet you strive to do everything with excellence. That’s really special.”
We are so proud of Femi and all volunteers onboard the Africa Mercy, they truly are the lifeblood of Mercy Ships!
Are you interested in volunteering? CLICK HERE for current opportunities!