I am serving in the West African country of Benin with Mercy Ships. The Africa Mercy is docked in the port in Cotonou which is the largest city and economic capital of Benin.
I am a part of the rehabilitation team in the hospital on board which is responsible for the care and restoration of function of patients after surgery, mainly orthopedic as well as plastic surgery. Mercy Ships also runs a Neglected Club Foot program on the ship treating patients over 2-3 years old with more complex club foot which I thoroughly enjoy.
In addition to the on ship program the Medical Capacity Building and Support Programs run training and mentorship programs to local clinics and medical staff in order to improve the country’s own capacity to provide safe and effective health care to it’s people.
I am involved at the local off-ship Ponseti clinic during this field service assisting with teaching and training local therapists and staff. Part of this new commitment is to learn French and I am taking French conversational classes to improve my language skills, it is a wonderful challenge which I am really enjoying.
In addition to my primary role as physiotherapist I am a member of the Africa Mercy Dive Team which provides routine maintenance to the ship keeping essential operations; like the air-conditioning, fire pumps, generators and main engines running. This is an incredible way to use my qualification as an Advanced Scuba Diver to serve this amazing organisation and the people of Benin.
One of the biggest challenges and joys of my Mercy Ships journey is living in close community. I love spending time with the families on board and attending community groups and gatherings as a way of growing in the ‘community of faith’ that is so unique to Mercy Ships.