Tuesday, June 16, 2009

In at the Deep End

With the ship in port for 10 months at a time we get all sorts of rubbish and marine life inside the cooling pipework for our machinery. Sometimes the only way to sort this out is to get in the water, which is what some of our crew did last week. What skills can you use in Mercy Ships? You'd be surprised!

Get Ready

Get set


Happy cleaning.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mobile Blood Bank

How do we store enough blood onboard to allow all the life changing surgeries that are carried out on the AFM? We have 390 state of the art 'Mobile blood storage units' (also known as crew members) that keep all the blood we need fresh, healthy and available whenever needed. Have you ever had to face so many demands at work that you have declared, "What more do you want from me .... Blood?"

Caption Competition

OK - words fail me! If you have any ideas of a suitable caption drop me a note!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Building Capacity

I'm sure we've all heard the saying that refers to teaching people how to fish rather than just giving them a fish. Training and education are becoming more and more a part of what we do here in Mercy Ships, with training for surgeons, bio-med technicians and even administrators being requested and provided whilst we're here in Benin. Another part of the training program focuses on agriculture and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the way that crops are grown, and even what crops are grown. In Benin we're partnering with a local Church group who is already doing this work. They have a training establishment but no accomodation for students, so Mercy Ships have started work on building a dormitory with them that will enable students from anywhere in Benin to benefit from the training.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Piano Recital

Our Blog entries are a bit like british buses - non for ages then they all come at once.
On Monday evening some of the children onboard had a Piano Recital for parents and friends. Rachel and Iona both took part and did really well. They've not been learning for long but were brave enough and skilled enough to play infront of a crowd of thirty or so. WELL DONE!
Rachel with her Piano Teacher Miss Liu
Iona with her Piano Teacher Miss Gillette

Leader of the pack?

How old do you have to be to ride a zimidjan in Benin? If you can sit on it you can ride it! I saw this boy and his dad as we drove to the dental clinic. Yikes!

Look out for the Tooth Fairy

I guess the tooth fairy must be very happy that Mercy Ships are in Benin, as our dentists are working 5 days a week in the village clinic pulling and fixing teeth. Dag our crew dentist is in charge of the team and travels about 40 minutes each day with the other dentists, assistants and volunteers. They aim to treat around 11,500 people during our stay in Benin (about 19,000 procedures) with many hundreds more getting dental hygeine treatments.

The road to the clinic starts off as a small dual carriageway, similar to any in Europe or the USA, but then soon turns into a dirt track that tests the vehicles 4 wheel drive after the rain.

This photo shows Dag wiring up a man's teeth after fixing a metal plate to his badly broken jaw. There's a lot more to being a dentist here than you might think!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Eye Eye Captain

Last week I finally managed to get off the ship to see what our eye and dental teams are doing here in Benin.
To help us treat as many people as possible in Benin Mercy Ships have rented a warehouse near the dockyard and turned it into a 'Hospitality Centre'. Inside are our two air conditioned eye unit tents where incoming patients are first assessed before coming onboard for surgery. It's also where those who've had a cataract removel or other surgery go to get their check up and lazer treatment after surgery. This cuts down on a lot of the crowding on the dock.

Also inside the warehouse Mercy Ships have built a self contained sleeping area with 38 beds for people who have travelled to Cotonou in preparation for their surgery and have got here a bit too early (sometimes two weeks too early), or for those who have had surgery and are fit enough to leave the ship but need a few more days of rest prior to travelling home. Again this frees up the beds onboard the ship and allows us to treat more people and look after them better as well during the pre and post op period.

Our plans this year include free surgery for 3,000 people with cataracts, 190 with Pterygium, 100 with strabismus.

Patients return for their final check up after succesful cataract removal. aka the Roy Orbison Fan club.