Sunday, April 9, 2017

Mercy Ship Expedition - Darkness and Light: One Nurse's Story

My friend Marilyn is off on another 
Mercy Ship adventure in Africa. Those 
who followed her story before on the 
Africa Mercy know that Marilyn is a 
volunteer nurse on a hospital ship that 
sails the African coast in search of patients. 
She emails me and I share her post with you. 
I hope you enjoy! 

 "Darkness and Light" (04-05-17)

West Africa seems to me to be a place where superstition and witch
doctors thrive alongside western medicine and Christianity, sometimes
mixed together, never too far apart. Today, our eye team saw a
heart-wrenching example in the clinic. A little boy, maybe aged 4,
developed a fever. Malaria? Who knows? The mother took him to two
hospitals, but they didn't help him. Not sure why...maybe she couldn't
pay? So she took him to her neighbor, a witch doctor. He had the child
walk barefoot on hot coals, which burned his feet severely. He fell
down, so he burned his hands and body also. Then the witch doctor
poured acid in his eyes. Strange cure for a fever, if you ask me. Now
the mother brought her son to us, hoping that we could repair his
eyes...but they were completely destroyed.

Sometimes the darkness in this culture is very dark. I can only imagine
the anguish that that poor mom feels, seeing her son destroyed. I
wonder what the witch doctor feels. Is he so evil that the suffering he
inflicts doesn't move him, or is he so bound by superstition that he
thinks that he is doing good? There are things in this culture that I
simply don't understand. The prevalence and persistence of witchcraft
is one of them. It seems so obviously evil to me. I suppose consulting
a witch doctor is a little like a "hail Mary" in football--not likely to
help, but when you are desperate and have no other options, you try it

On a brighter note, another 15 people received their sight today, and 15
more are scheduled for tomorrow. 'Tis but a drop in the ocean of need,
but this ship signifies hope and help for the people of Benin, and they
know it.
To end with an amusing observation: My co-worker is a very black, very
British woman from England. People from West Africa readily identify
white people as foreigners, but they are confounded by the idea of a
black foreigner. How could she not speak their language? Surely she
comes from Kenya or Uganda or somewhere. She should go home to her
tribe and learn her own language. It leads to some hilarious moments
when patients persist in turning to her to translate for them--surely
she speaks at least one of the local languages. If not Fon, then
Mina... Even the day crew that have been working with her for months
find it amusing that her native language is English.



  1. Simply wonderful to read Sharon.


  2. Thank you for sharing these letters with us - what an angel she is to go off to some places and really not know what she is going to come across next and how terrible for the little boy to lose his sight in such a way. Popping in via the Celebrate blog today :)
    Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

  3. This is so interesting to me!
    I am sure your friend is seeing quite a lot.

    M : )


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You could call me an eternal optimist, but I'm really just a dreamer. l believe in dream fulfillment, because 'sometimes' dreams come true. This is a blog about my journey as a writer and things that inspire and motivate me.