Three days ago around 10am we arrived and settled into our new berth space (parking spot) in the country of Benin! The port city we reside in is called Cotonou. If you’d like to see video of the ship arriving visit the facebook page “Mercy Ships Benin”.
Our arrival is a pretty big deal! 🙂 But this time it was an even BIGGER DEAL because the people of Benin & Mercy Ships crew have waiting 2 years to come!
In 2014 the ship was scheduled to be in Benin, but the Ebola outbreak in West Africa prevented us from coming. We were forced to divert and perform surgeries elsewhere for two years. We spent 2 ten-month field services in Madagascar before it was safe to return to Benin. Let me reassure you it is indeed safe for us to be in Benin. There have been no reported cases of Ebola in Benin. Furthermore the infection prevention and control personnel aboard Mercy Ships are continuing to monitor the situation and will pull out if necessary.
The Mercy Ships advance team arrived, some as early as mid May (2016), to begin the process of preparing for the ship’s arrival. In addition to hiring translators and securing our berth space, the team worked tirelessly to make contact with the port authorities, local government officials, immigration, customs, etc. They were also in charge of preparing and renovating our clinic sites. In addition to performing surgeries, Mercy Ships staffs several clinics in the city of Cotonou. These clinics are for our dental, eye and clubfeet patients. There is also a rehabilitation clinic/site called the HOPE center where some patients are housed after their surgery. These patients require longer-term physical therapy, dressing changes & outpatient appointments. This is a larger site that required much renovation before it was ready to house patients. As you can imagine these things don’t just fall into place! It requires a lot of preparation, countless meetings and permission from local authorities. The advance team definitely had their work cut out for them!
Now that the ship is here there is even more to be done! We have begun the big task of unloading the land rovers from the ship, “hooking up” the Internet, untying everything that had to be securely stowed for the sail and much more! Next week we will start to unpack and set up the hospital!
Thank you very much for your continued prayers! The sail from Cape Town to Benin was very smooth! Very few people were seasick and we did not encounter any pirates! You may chuckle at this, but pirates are definitely a concern especially when sailing through West Africa. Don’t worry! Mercy Ships was aware and took extra precautions to make sure we were safe!
Our safe arrival!
The large dock space! (see picture)
This provides room for the children to play, space for the Rehab, Outpatients & Admissions tents. And plenty of space to park the land rovers!
The daycrew (translators). The advance team was able to hire a total of 225 daycrew! The ship could not do what it does without our fabulous translators! They had their first day of orientation on Saturday. Four of them will work with me in Admissions! They are wonderful and seem eager to work and learn!
The process of screening potential patients begins Monday morning and will last for three weeks. A group of nurses and translators will meet potential patients and decide if they are a good candidate for surgery. Sometimes as many as 350, potential patients, per day are screened. It is a tedious process and there is always tension in the air. People are desperate for help. It is heart wrenching to have to tell them we are unable to help. And sometimes this news is not received.
Please pray for the safety of everyone involved, for accurate translation and the Father to guide us as we select potential patients for surgery.