Hello everyone! Breaking the silence on our quiet blog - good news, we are here on the ship in Cameroon! Nick and I have enjoyed settling back into our cabin home and life on board since the ship arrived just over a week ago. Standing on the dock and greeting the ship as it arrived was an incredible experience.
I am planning to post a couple more updates on what we’ve been up to lately- but here’s a quick overview:
It has really been a privilege to be part of the Mercy Ships Advance Team for Cameroon. This means that we were part of the team which goes ahead of the ship's arrival to make sure everything is as prepared as possible for our 10 month visit.
On advance, I was the Medical Capacity Building Liaison. This means I helped prepare for anything Mercy Ships does which involves teaching and training, including on-board mentoring for surgeons, anesthetists, nurses, preparing for various courses we will run, working on the WHO checklist project (click the link if you want to know more about it), and also helping prepare for the Ponseti Program.
Nick’s role was to prepare children with very severe clubfeet to enter our orthopedic program. We are starting orthopedic surgery early in the visit to Cameroon, so in order to give these kids the best outcomes possible, Nick has been pre-casting them to allow time for their feet to stretch out before they go to see Dr. Frank, our orthopedic surgeon. Nick has also been working on starting his teaching program (which will offer treatment to younger children). He has been meeting key contacts, and will even begin teaching an intensive course starting tomorrow. Nick never wastes time getting started once he’s arrived in a country. The photo on the left is after Nick's first day of casting in Cameroon- happily back to being covered in plaster.
During advance we saw mountains move and saw the impossible become possible again and again. Not an easy journey but a good one- and couldn't have asked for a better team!
Finally the arrival day really came! It's a Mercy Ships tradition for the advance team to have special outfits made for the arrival day- we chose our fabric here in Douala. We stood on the dock along with a group of our newly-hired local Day Crew- local people who will work with us during the next 10 months. They came along to sing and join in celebrating the ships arrival.
What an amazing feeling after the first person yelled "I see it! I see it!" and we could see the white Africa Mercy off in the distance, coming around the corner!
The ship was looking so lovely, with all the flags out and the crew standing out on deck waving back!
As the ship got closer, we could begin to make out faces of friends. Then began a long frenzy of waving and yelling and cheering, with the Day Crew singing there on the dock with us.
Putting down the gangway in Cameroon. What a beautiful thing.
A song we sing often in West Africa says:
Great things He has done
Greater things He will do
Unto the Lord be the glory
Great things He has done!
Lastly, a video! I took a some video footage while we were welcoming the ship, here's the arrival from the perspective of the advance team: