The Africa Mercy® Welcomes First Patients on Board

Patient Sokhna
Two years ago, when the Africa Mercy sailed from Senegal, hundreds of patients were left still waiting for their chance for surgery. On February 1st, the ship returned to the port of Dakar to bring hope and healing to these patients and their families.
Three weeks later was the exciting culmination of this long wait. Nurses had spent hours scrubbing every inch of the hospital, down to the plastic toy blocks the pediatric patients would soon play with. The operating room was meticulously sterilized after two years of disuse. The dockside tents – including pre-operative, rehab, and outpatients tents – were set up and filled with eager team members. The volunteer community on board grew with new crew flocking in from around the world.
All Cew
All the crew for the 2022 Africa Mercy field service in Senegal. © Mercy Ships

Finally, on February 23rd, patients boarded the ship, and the first life-changing surgeries took place!

“Two years ago, we had to say, ‘I’m sorry. We can’t help you right now. We’ll be back – we just don’t know when.’ Now, we’re fulfilling a promise to our patients. The door is open, and we step through that door when we start operating. That is the moment we start doing what we came here to do,” said Dr. Miriam John, Mercy Ships International Chief Medical Officer.

Sokhna from south Senegal is the first patient to receive surgery on the Africa Mercy in two years. A maxillofacial surgery to repair her cleft lip is the first of approximately 1,000 varying types of surgeries in ten months that Mercy Ships is conducting out of the Port of Dakar. © Mercy Ships

The first patient to receive surgery during this field service was Sokhna, a young mother in her twenties. She’s from southern Senegal, where she and her husband are farmers. Sokhna spends most of her time tending to her home and taking care of her one-year-old baby, the joy of her life. She’s spent her life living with a cleft lip, and first had hope that she might receive surgery back in 2019, when the Africa Mercy sailed to Senegal. But before Sokhna could get to the ship, she heard the news that her operation would have to wait.

In the face of a devastating delay, Sokhna stayed positive, saying, “It must have been God’s plan that I didn’t have surgery then.”

Two years later, when the Africa Mercy returned to Senegal, Sokhna’s faith was rewarded as she became the very first patient to enter the ship and receive surgery. She said she didn’t have many nerves on her admissions day: “I feel just peace and joy.”

She’s got her eyes set on the light at the end of the tunnel to the thing she’s most looking forward to. She can picture it already: the moment she finally goes home healed and her husband sees her, for the first time, with her cleft lip repaired.

Benjamin, 23 year-old maxillofacial patient, on the dock before being one of the first patients admitted to the hospital on the Africa Mercy in almost two years. © Mercy Ships

Sokhna’s hospital admission and surgery were followed by a second of the day: Benjamin, a 23-year-old man who had his facial tumor removed. He first heard about Mercy Ships from his volleyball coach back in 2019. But when he was told the Africa Mercy would leave early due to COVID-19, the surgery to remove Benjamin’s tumor was postponed.

He was told Mercy Ships would return but found it hard to hold onto hope. Standing in front of the ship on the day of his hospital admission, he said he’s finally starting to believe it’s really happening.

“I’m just happy to be here, waiting for surgery,” Benjamin said. “I feel confident. I’m leaving it all in God’s hands.”

On the morning of the surgery, a familiar sound filled the ship. Pausing in the operating room hallway moments before surgery, volunteer surgeon Dr. Gary Parker spoke a word of prayer for Sokhna and Benjamin. Through the intercom system, volunteers across the ship set down their work to join him in prayer. For these precious first surgeries, and for the hundreds more that will take place over the coming months.

Thank you for being a part of it!


Story of Diacko

Diacko: The Courage to Trust

As we approach the close of this year, let us take a moment to reflect on the challenges and trials faced by so many, especially those who have experienced profound loss. This season, while we gather with loved ones to celebrate, let’s also remember those who are still suffering, those who have lost their way, and those who have lost their faith in a better tomorrow.
During this holiday season, we invite you to join us in this mission of compassion, faith, and renewal.
Your generosity can make a real and lasting impact.

Patients Teneng and Ibrahima

Teneng and Ibrahima: Gifts from God

This Christmas season, let’s come together as a community of faith and support to bring restoration to people who have lost so much. Mercy Ships Canada is on a mission to heal and transform the lives of Children and adults in need. Your gift, rooted in faith, can make a significant difference in the lives of countless people. Your support will bring back smiles, health, and faith to children and adults who have suffered for far too long. Donate today and make this Christmas truly meaningful.


Kadidja: A Future as Bright as her Smile

At Mercy Ships Canada, we serve those who have lost hope, bringing healing and transformation. Our volunteers, inspired by their faith, work selflessly to perform surgeries that renew not only bodies but also faith and hope. This Christmas, be a part of the miracle by making a donation to Mercy Ships Canada. Your contribution will help renew faith and offer a second chance at life. Together, we can make a significant impact on those who have suffered for too long.

Aissatou Finds Healing

Aissatou Finds Healing

As we approach the holiday season, we are reminded of the immense power of faith and the importance of giving back to those in need. This Christmas, you have the opportunity to be a beacon of hope, healing and transformation for those who need it most.
Your support this Christmas will not only change lives but also reaffirm the spirit of giving and faith. Join us in spreading love, hope, and healing.
Make a donation today, and together, we can transform the lives of people who have lost so much.


Related Posts