Marlayna Van Hoepen recently returned home to Chilliwack, British Columbia, from the Africa Mercy where she spent three months volunteering as a cook on board during our 2014-2015 field service in Madagascar.
Marlayna cooked up a storm and provided crew with the fuel they needed to help patients and keep the ship running!
Marlayna now joins Chilliwack Mercy Ships alumni Nurse Nelleke Kerkchoff, Hairstylist Shanna Fortnum and Eye Care Assistant Kathryn Stock who have all dedicated months and years to bringing free healthcare to the world’s poor with Mercy Ships.
At the young age of 19, Marlayna has seen a part of the world most Canadians have not.
“My experience on the ship has changed my life, Africa will forever hold a place in my heart and I will be back” says Marlayna.
One such life-changing experience included Sambany’s story. Sambany travelled by foot for two days with the burden of a 16.46lb facial tumour to reach the Africa Mercy in hopes of receiving help, and help he did find, as surgeons were able to completely remove the tumour giving him back his life!
Sambany tells Mercy Ships crew, “I knew without surgery I would die. I knew I might die in surgery, but I already felt dead inside from the way I was treated. I chose to have the surgery.”
It took 17 blood donors made up of the ship’s crew to keep Sambany alive during the 12 hour operation, he lost all of his own blood and now runs on 100% donated blood. He has since recovered and returned home to his village where family and friends were in shock after seeing his face without the tumour he had carried for 19 years.
“Being on board and seeing Sambany’s journey and transformation was just amazing” says Van Hoepen.
During the 2014-2015 eight month field service in Madagascar, 1267 operating room surgeries were performed!
Mercy Ships would not be able to deliver healthcare services to patients like Sambany without the help of our Canadian volunteers like Marlayna!