The December “Charity of the Month” is Mercy Ships – a global charity that has operated hospital ships in developing nations for the past 40 years, bringing hope and healing to the forgotten poor by mobilising people and resources worldwide, serving all people without regard for race, gender or religion. Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care services, capacity building and sustainable aid in the developing world.
Their current ship, the Africa Mercy was deployed in 2007, and has five operating rooms, an 80-bed ward and can perform some 7,000 surgical procedures a year on-board including cataract removal/lens implants, tumour removal, cleft lip and palate reconstruction, orthopaedics and obstetric fistula repair. Mercy Ships recently reached the milestone of 100,000 surgical procedures, with a cleft-lip surgery performed by an Australian surgeon.
They also deploy land-based teams of volunteers to increase health and well-being using dental clinics, eye clinics, and medical capacity building programs that train local health care professionals in their fields of expertise to better serve their own people.
The ship is crewed by volunteers including surgeons, dentists, nurses, health care trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists who donate their time and skills to the effort – over 1,200 volunteers from 40 nations each year. It is currently in Senegal where it will spend the next year.
Mercy Ships is currently constructing a new ship which will join the African Mercy and more than double the charity’s capacity to make a positive impact in surgical health care delivery in areas around the world where access is limited—bringing hope and healing.
For more information, visit their website www.mercyships.org.au/