Sunday, April 20, 2014

Africa Mercy - How Our Reputation Spreads: One Nurse's Journey

A parting post from Marilyn in Africa on the Africa Mercy! She wanted to share one more story before she leaves.

(This is a running email post written by a volunteer nurse serving on the Africa Mercy, a hospital ship that travels the African coast).

How Our Reputation Spreads
17 April 2014

I thought I was done writing for now, but I'd like to share a story I heard yesterday from one of our day crew.  Jean Paul was walking in the marketplace, minding his own business, when a man called his name and proceeded to offer profuse thanks.  Jean Paul didn't recognize the fellow, but the man sure remembered Jean Paul, and others on the eye team, by name.

"I heard Mercy Ships was coming, so I took my blind mother to the main screening.  They turned her away, said that they couldn't help.  But I heard they were screening again at St. Pierre, so I took her there.  The crowd was so large that they cut off the screening two people ahead of me, and she didn't get seen.  I found out when the next St. Pierre screening was, and determined to spend the night waiting in line.  I gave my nephew money for a taxi to bring Mother in the morning.  Sure enough, they saw my mother and gave her an appointment for the clinic, and then for surgery."

We had to wait for the surgery day, of course, but the day came and she had surgery.  The next day, when they removed the eye patch, she could see!  I took her home, and she saw her 15-year-old granddaughter for the first time in ten years.  She knew her by voice, of course, but not by sight.  "Oh, you've grown up!" she exclaimed.  All the neighbors heard her rejoicing and came to hear the story, and now they all want their blind family members to have surgery, too."

Why did we turn her away at main screening?  Who knows?  We processed thousands of people that day (not all for eyes, of course).  It was long, hot, and grueling...I expect we didn't do the job perfectly.  Or maybe we suspected that the cataract was not the whole explanation for her blindness and that she wouldn't get a good result from surgery.  But aren't you impressed with the man's perseverance? I'm so glad he kept trying, and glad that she got such a good result.

Our reputation penetrates the city through stories such as this.  I expect that next time we come, we'll find many more people eager to come to us for surgery.



  1. Hi Sharon .. thanks I've sent both Marilyn's recent emails to my god-daughter who is studying to be a doctor and was very interested ...

    Cheers Hilary

  2. Thanks, Hilary. I have wondered (few comment) if her posts would inspire others to serve overseas. I hope your god-daughter can click on the Africa Mercy label in my archive. Marilyn has written 33 posts to date!!


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