KRB Update – Arrival Sierra Leone

KRB Update #2163
Keith R. Brinkman Arrival Sierra Leone March 5, 2011

Greetings from the West African nation of Sierra Leone. From September to January, the Africa Mercy, the world’s largest charity hospital ship, was in dry dock in Durban, South Africa undergoing essential repairs and upgrades to its on-board power generators and other mechanical systems. While about 80 crew members remained onboard during the dry dock, others, myself included, moved to a compound called Appelsbosch. I am excited that we are all back together as one crew – those of us who went to Appelsbosch, those that stayed on board and those long term crew who were away on extended leave.
The sail from South Africa was a beautiful journey and except for a couple days it was smooth. While we sail, our jobs and responsibilities continue and the days were long as I continued to work with the various teams already ahead of the ship in Sierra Leone. I worked on making preparations for our arrival and initial weeks as it relates to programs. During the second week, Staff Development conducted a three day country briefing during which I had the opportunity to share on crew opportunities for this year. The last night at sea, we had worship on the bow with African drums and dolphins came and swam alongside us – it was a special evening.
We sailed into Freetown on Sunday early morning – please see the photo to the right with the two crew members on board from Sierra Leone. This country is still recovering from a destructive civil war that started 20 years ago and left many with physical and emotional scars from their traumatic experiences. For the first time, patient screening preceded the arrival of the Africa Mercy and began in January with 5,010 patients screened so far. The screening team went to six cities in Sierra Leone (5 were inland or upcountry) – Koidu, Makeni, Kabala, Kenema, Bo and Aberdeen. 383 surgical patients are already scheduled for surgery and another 708 are prequalified and on a waiting list. We will be having a specialist surgical screening on Monday the 7th March (with overflow from that day into the 8th March) at Freetown National Stadium. Over 140 hospital crew and over 100 non-hospital crew will be involved in the screening days. We will be helping with crowd control, serving water, kid’s ministry, prayer and of course the medical assessments. We also couldn’t do it without our day volunteers who will be helping us with translation over the two days. The surgical specialties that we will be screening for are maxillofacial, general, plastics and orthopaedics. We are unsure how many will turn up to be screened but it is our prayer that we minister God’s love to all those that come to screening whether we are able to offer them a surgery or not. Mercy Ships is aligning its services with Sierra Leone’s health care goals, and in addition to the life transforming surgeries it will perform, Mercy Ships will continue to focus on training local medical professionals and partnering with organizations who can continue to work to transform this nation for years to come.

Few Facts for Sierra Leone: ▫ Life Expectancy is 56 years ▫ One in every 8 women will die in child birth this year
▫ One in every 5 children will not make it to the age of 5 ▫ 75% of the population lives on less than $2 per day * 5.3 million people *42% of the population are under 15 years old * Main ethic groups – Temne & Mende

Prayer Requests: ** Surgical Screenings ** Start up of our projects on and off the ship ** Health & Safety.

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