One of the great joys of serving in host countries is building relationships with each nation’s leaders and representatives. The Africa Mercy recently had the honour of hosting Mme. Djene Kaba Condé, along with several members of cabinet members, to reflect on all that has been accomplished this field service.
“The compassionate heart is not something we can fake, you either have it or you don’t have it. … I’m so, so grateful for your visit to Guinea for these last 10 months and bringing healing and hope to all these patients across the different specialties,” said Mme. Hadja Djene Condé, First Lady of Guinea
This is not the first time the Africa Mercy has docked in Guinea, and returning here has had some surprises. For example in the 2018/2019 field service, our volunteer medical professionals saw significantly fewer cases of cleft lips than they were expecting. During a recent screening, over 6,000 people were seen, and only six children in that group showed signs of cleft lips. This unusually small number is due in part to the training of local surgeons with the Mercy Ships Medical Capacity Building program.
Over the past two years, local surgeons have repaired over 323 cleft lip cases in Guinea.
“People have told me that doing any kind of mentoring in poor countries just doesn’t work, but I beg to differ,” said Dr. Gary Parker, Chief Medical Officer and Maxillofacial Surgeon. “We are here in one of the poorest nations on earth and it is working. They are taking care of their own people. I’m very excited about that.”
By the end of the Africa Mercy’s 10-month stay in the port of Conakry, Mercy Ships is planning to have provide 2 to 2.5 thousand life-changing surgeries onboard, with an additional 8,000 procedures at a land-based dental clinic, as well as providing healthcare training to local medical professionals.
Written By: Andrea Gilbert