August 5, 2018 by kshearon12
Today is my 4 week mark of being back on the Africa Mercy. I had a lovely time at home and got to connect with so many of you, it was such a blessing. I left the ship a bit before the field service ended to be able to attend a dear friend’s wedding. It was beautiful and I am so thankful I was able to be there! Thank you to all on the ship and at home that made this a possibility since deviating from the plan can always cause unforeseen issues. Some of my favorite memories of being at home are doing life with my family and friends. I helped chop trees, played by Lake Superior, planted veggies and flowers and ate an embarrassing amount of fresh strawberries and kale chips. I also spent many lazy days at the lake enjoying the fresh air and quiet. It was just the rest I needed.
Above: A few of my favorite things from Gran Canaria
At the beginning of June the ship made the long voyage from Cameroon to the Canary Islands which belong to Spain but are just west of southern Morocco. During the time in the Canary Islands the ship undergoes much needed maintenance and updates. Our technical crew are very busy and a whole host of project volunteers arrived to help complete everything in time. The amount of people on the ship is also vastly decreased. The ship goes from a busy hub that hums around the hospital to a work zone with lots of construction barricades, limited air conditioning, and sometimes non-functioning plumbing and electricity. As with all work projects, there are always bumps in the road and flexibility is key.
What have I been up to for the past few months? This is a fair question since I have no skills as a deck hand or in marine engineering. I have been working furiously on updating and writing new procedures that I didn’t get to over the field service. I have also been around to receive and log supplies as they come from the vendors and our US or Holland based operations centers. A few weeks ago I hosted service engineers from two different companies as they performed valuable maintenance on four of our analyzers. This will help us be prepared for the Guinea field service ahead. It is fun to show them a bit of ship life. Even though we don’t currently look like a hospital, the service they offer us is invaluable to our future patients.
Shortly we will be weighing anchor and starting a relatively short (only about 5 days) sail to bring hope and healing to the West African country of Guinea. This will be the fourth time Mercy Ships has been here and it will be my second time serving with Mercy Ships in this specific country. To determine where the ship should go Mercy Ships uses the United Nations Human Development Index. This list ranks countries on their life expectancy, literacy, education, standard of living and quality of life on a numerical scale (the lower the number the more resources the country has or how developed it is). Out of 188 countries Guinea is ranked at 182 while Cameroon is ranked at 153. For comparison the United States is at 11 and the top 3 countries are Norway, Australia and Switzerland.
There is a lot of need in Guinea especially after the Ebola outbreak a few years ago. I am excited to return to the country that stole my heart over 5 years ago and started this crazy journey with Mercy Ships. Please join with me in praying for the country of Guinea, our future patients, for the Advance team who is currently preparing for the ship to arrive and safety during our sail.
My next update will be from Guinea!