KRB Update 2210 – Cameroon 2017

KRB Update #2210 – Cameroon 2017
Keith R. Brinkman with Mercy Ships               03 October 2015
‘Salama’ from the Africa Mercy here in Madagascar.  We have exciting news as seen in the title ‘Cameroon 2017’ that I wish to share with you.  Nearly three years ago, Pierre Christ, our Government Liaison, began faithfully pursuing new relationships in Cameroon in hopes of facilitating a future ship visit.  Since then, two delegations from Cameroon have visited the ship and another two Mercy Ships delegations have visited Cameroon.  I was with the delegation in March 2014 when Pierre and I traveled to Yaoundé, Cameroon.  In order to facilitate a ship visit, we need to have a signed protocol with the host government.  Recently my friends, Harmen and Andrea, went to Cameroon to help with the final stage of protocol negotiations. Then our Group Managing Director Donovan Palmer and Pierre arrived in Cameroon and were able to sign a protocol and committed to work towards a field service for the Africa Mercy there in 2017-2018.

A quote from Donovan, “At the heart of the agreement is a deep desire in the Cameroonian government to partner with Mercy Ships – to treat as many people as possible and offer capacity building projects as well.  In the coming weeks, we will negotiate and sign a secondary agreement called an ‘Accord de Siégé,’ which we hope to complete by mid-November. This agreement will pave the way for assessment teams to conduct research and address issues to be resolved with the government.  We have been invited to come in 2017 in order to allow adequate preparation time for the programs envisioned.  In the meantime, our proposals include capacity building programs that will begin before the arrival of the ship, enabling us to fully leverage the ship’s visit.”

If you can read French, here is a link to the article on the internet:,68059,@,cameroun-sante-un-navire-hopital-de-l-ong-americaine-mercy-ships-bientot-au-came.html

For me, I am excited for this new country with a large population, people who are bilingual as it is French/English, which will help me with communications.  I have learned more about Cameroon from recent friends with a Christian missionary organization who have served there many years. I may be on one of the assessment trips, but that has not been determined yet.  Now you may ask “ok that is 2017, what about 2016?”, our leaders are still making a final decision and I will let you know when we know.

Back here in Madagascar, the first new patient I have connected with is Patrick and he comes from Taolagnaro.  He is in his 40’s and a father of four. His work is riding his bike village to village selling used clothes.  He borrowed money for a surgery but it was not successful.  So he has continued to pray for three years for his healing from a maxillofacial tumor.  He heard the announcement on the radio in his local dialect about the patient selection.  He was screened by our team, accepted and made the four day bus journey to get here.  He is a catholic man and so thankful to God for his healing.  His surgery and recovery has gone so well that he will be able to return home to his family and community soon.
Just yesterday I met three young boys with cleft lips, all from Manakara.  A bit shy and not accustomed to foreign people, but it didn’t take long to be doing fist bump.  They will have surgery next week.  I will be visiting them and their parents especially while they are with us on board in our hospital.

Photo:  Patrick on the left in the red coat and Hermann was translating for me – he is in the middle.  We are at the HOPE Center for Sunday worship.

Together we are following the example of Jesus bringing hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor.

Serving Together,

Keith Email:

KRB Update 2209 – Madagascar 2

KRB Update #2209 – Madagascar 2
Keith R. Brinkman with Mercy Ships               06 September 2015
‘Salama’ from the Africa Mercy back in Madagascar.  After a couple delays in South Africa, we set sail and returned to this the fourth largest island in the world and our home for the next ten months.  I am excited for this field service and all that God has in store for our patients, this crew, our partners and for me.  The last time we conducted two back-to-back field services was in Monrovia, Liberia in 2007 and 2008 – I served on the Advance Team for the time in between.  This time, I was the Liaison for the Advance Team on board the ship.  There are some unique opportunities available to us:

  • Extensive screening for surgical patients in the capital for 3 weeks before the ship returned and in ten cities strategically located around the country. In the southern city of Taolagnaro, the pre-screening conducted by a partner and our two days last week – 58 potential patients received appointment cards to come to the ship for their final screening by the operating surgeon. One comment from a potential patient was “so grateful for the fact that Mercy Ships travelled so far down to select patients from my area.”
  • As we learned of the great need for women’s health surgeries during our first visit, we have adjusted our surgical schedule and will offer more obstetric fistula, uterine prolapse and other gynecological surgeries for primarily the rural Malagasy women. For all of our surgical specialties, we are planning on over 2,000 surgeries.
  • Due to the largest number of patients coming from outside the port city area, we expanded our HOPE Center to have 244 beds for patients and caregivers for their stay before surgery and afterwards when they only need outpatient care and not 24/7 nursing care. Plus we have completed two additional infrastructure development projects in June and July at the local government/university hospital and will start the renovations of the operating room block later this month. Helping to improve healthcare delivery in this nation and this region.
  • Medical Capacity Building – having learned more of the types of medical training they need during our first visit, we have been able to formulate our most complete surgery-focused training courses (with training of trainers component) and mentoring opportunities on board. These projects have been specifically developed to impart knowledge and skills, while modeling and encouraging compassion and a professional work ethic. We expect over 500 healthcare professional participants.

In all areas, remembering our vision statement of “Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to transform individuals and serve nations, one at a time.”
For me, I look forward with great expectation to reconnecting with my friends in this nation – day crew (local workers), patients, caregivers and partners.  I am going to be more involved with Befriend-a-Patient for that one-on- one connection with our patients, who are in our hospital just below my cabin and down the hall from my office.  I have one patient who will be returning for a second surgery – Stani Junior – and so I can’t wait to see him again.

Thank you all your support – through your prayers, encouragement, and financial support – together we are following the example of Jesus bringing hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor.
Serving Together,   Keith Email:

KRB Update 2208 End of Field Service

KRB Update #2208 – End of Field Service
Keith R. Brinkman with Mercy Ships               13 June 2015
Hello from the Africa Mercy somewhere in the Mozambique Channel, Indian Ocean as we have left Madagascar and are heading to Durban, South Africa for our shipyard/drydock phase.  Our field service to Madagascar has come to an end after eight months in this nation.  For me, it has been longer as I had the privilege to come in with the assessment and advance teams back in September.  Here at the end, we hosted our partners on board to thank them for their partnership.  Our thank you event for our amazing Malagasy day crew was filled with great food, fellowship, short performances of song and dance and more food and goodbyes for some, but for most it is only ‘Till August’ when we return.  I am currently in the process of reviewing 35 individual project reports from the hospital, medical capacity building, capacity building and support programs and mercy ministries.  These reports are our official documentation of the project noting our activities, challenges, responses and recommendations, what worked well and success stories and/or participant feedback.  Plus I am writing some summary reports and finalizing our statistics as we strive for excellence and integrity.  Here are a few charts showing some numbers, knowing that each number represents a person’s lives who has been impacted during this field service.

A short update on Sambany:  a small group from the ship joined him for the journey home to his village.  They drove as far as they could go and then a day and half walking.  Along the path, his wife (see the photo) was coming towards them and she didn’t even recognize her husband.  They had a joyful reunion as she thought he had died as it had been so long and there was no means of communications to her or anyone in the village.  Sambany was welcoming home by his village.  The group from the ship that joined on this adventure shared with the entire ship community what the experience was like.  A short update about Stani Junior, I talked with him prior to leaving and he returned home safely to his village, family and friends.  He shared with people that Jesus had healed him.  He inquired of me as that there is another person in his village with a similar problem.  He has encouraged the person to come for the screening for consideration to be selected for surgery.

While we are in South Africa, I am working on our preparations for Madagascar II – all of our project plans including their budgets, being the liaison for the Advance Team in Madagascar and taking some time to rest.  Thank you all your support – through your prayers, encouragement, and financial support – together we were able to bring hope and healing to the people of Madagascar and it is not the end as we return there in early August.

Serving Together,   Keith Email: