Thursday, March 29, 2018

8 things we'll remember about Cameroon (part 1/2)

Hello dear friends - time to break the long silence on this blog! Sometimes when life gets ahead of us like this I don’t know where to start or what to share with you. But, please know that we deeply appreciate each of you who sends us encouragement and keeps up with us on this journey!

We are both well, we are continuing on in our service here in Douala, Cameroon, with the end of this season here approaching quickly.  I (Suzanne) have been in Cameroon since June, and Nick since July 2017.  I’ve found some memories and pieces of our lives here in Cameroon to share with you.  I’ll share a few “themes” of what our time here has looked like.

First though, I'd like to share something put together by our videographer, Caleb.  This from a couple months ago, and it's a beautiful look into our field service here in Cameroon!  We've now surpassed the number of surgeries quoted at the end.  

1 - Partnership - Ponseti Clubfoot Clinic

Once again, we are blessed with excellent local partners in the Ponseti program.  We praise God for this- for the hard working and dedicated Cameroonian physical therapists and doctors who will carry this work forward once the ship has sailed away.  Many families will find treatment for their children with clubfoot because of them!

I love seeing Nick completely in his element like this - he thrives on seeing those around him grow in their skills.  And this is not limited to teaching Cameroonians, but also to fellow Mercy Ships crew members. We are so thankful for the physical therapists who have become involved in the Ponseti program as well, and love seeing them also enabled to treat children and share knowledge.  This team is growing, and it's a beautiful thing.  

This year the Ponseti team is providing training to 8 physical therapists and doctors, and is treating 25 children. Staff in training are from both public and private Cameroonian hospitals.  Below is Ouesseni, who had quite severe clubfeet.  But, his dedicated parents have faithfully brought him to casting appointments and brace check ups, and his feet are now looking great!

2 - Dockside sunsets

Our ship is in port on the Wouri river, in Douala Cameroon.  On clear days we get to look out at a beautiful sunset, with Mount Cameroon off in the distance, so beautiful!  

Here's a short video I made of the sunset from Deck 7:

3 - Sterile processing training

Once again, I had the opportunity to work alongside Christina Fast ( to find out more about her organization!) to offer training in the care of operating room instruments.  This too-often overlooked aspect of any safe surgery is something that I have become involved in because of my time with Mercy Ships.  

20 participants came from 5 area hospitals for a classroom course.    Many of these participants were heads of their departments, who made lots of time in their schedules to attend the course.  This group was particularly engaged in the training, and were a real pleasure to work with.  They have a challenging job, and they work in a context where it is difficult to get the necessary supplies to do the job well.  During the course, we spent lots of time talking about what types of supplies are an absolute necessity, how to adapt as best as possible, best practice, and ideas for future development of sterile processing departments.  This course provided an avenue for professionals from the Douala area to share ideas and get to know each other.  In the photo, Christina is teaching the group about wrapping instrument sets.

4 - Christmas on the Ship

This was our third Christmas on the ship as a married couple.  Nick and I always miss our families at Christmas time, but it's a special season here as well.  We put up decorations in our cabin, participated in the annual gingerbread house contest, as well as special traditions from around the world.  See photo on the left: I saved some of the blue paper our sterile items are wrapped in in the operating room and re-used it as wrapping paper for Nick's gifts. ;)

Numbers 5-8 will be posted in a few days, but I'll end here for today...a couple weeks ago we repeated the same camping trip we did in October because we liked it so much.  The green and fresh air did my heart good, and it was precious time with close friends.  There are some special people on this journey with us, and we are so thankful for them!

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