I have decided to start a small blog because I have had lots of family and friends asking about life on board the Africa Mercy and in Benin.
The Africa Mercy is the largest non-government floating hospital in the world. It has 5 operating theatres, recovery, an intensive care unit and 4 surgical wards. Staffed by over 400 international volunteers, the Africa Mercy provides more than 7000 surgeries each field service. The main surgeries I have seen since being here are for cleft palates, ameloblastomas with ICBG procedure, goitres, gigantism/acromegaly of fingers or toes, cataracts, bowed legs, burn contractures and VVF. In addition to the surgeries performed on the Africa Mercy, there are also several field clinics including dental, ophthalmology and Ponsetti.
The Africa Mercy has 9 decks which include a school, hairdressing salon, library, Starbucks, ship shop, internet cafe, lounge area, and a pool. Wifi is also really good on the ship. Life on board isn’t too bad at all!
Most cabins on the ship are shared cabins with up to 10 people per room. I am so lucky and get a single cabin with a joint bathroom! My room has a bookcase, desk, cupboard, bed, bathroom sink and microwave. My room is situated on deck 4, directly above the hospital wards. Each night I fall asleep to the sounds of the patients playing musical instruments, singing and clapping. Each night volunteers go down to the wards and join in the celebrations of healing. This is something I will never forget about my journey – seeing the pure joy and happiness on their faces while we sing and dance around the wards.
There is a large dining room on the ship which provides three meals per day on weekdays and breakfast and dinner on weekends. This encourages us on weekends to go off ship and eat/drink locally which is great and I always take advantage of! The meals are really good and cannot be complained about. My favourite day is Tuesday mornings as our baker makes hot cinnamon buns.