A global charity operating a growing fleet of hospital ships set sail from Liberia after 98 days of service in the West African nation.
A crowd of well-wishers gathered to wave goodbye as the 522-foot flagship of Texas-based Mercy Ships left port after conducting development projects and educational programs for the past three months to help re-build Liberia during its first visit to the war-torn West African nation.
The crowd was evidence of the many friendships forged between the crew and people living and working in Liberia during the first visit of Mercy Ships, the charity organization reported.
According to Mercy Ships, thousands of people received free surgical and dental care over the course of 14 weeks. After medical screenings to select patients at hospitals in the capital, Monrovia, and a town upcountry, surgeons performed 499 procedures in the ships operating rooms. The dental team treated a further 1,250 people in off-ship dental clinics, including 43 inmates at Monrovias central prison.
Through removing tumors and repairing cleft lips, replacing cataracts and releasing burns scarring, many lives have been touched and transformed, the charity group stated.
Mercy Ships also provided base support for several projects and programs in nearby communities. In Monrovia, crewmembers trained 12 adult literacy facilitators and modeled creative teaching methods in four schools. Four hundred church leaders attended a four-day conference and five church denominations partnered with Mercy Ships in Liberias first Alpha course. More than 130 crewmembers visited three orphanages, a pediatric hospital, a prison, and a residential home for the disabled, bringing fun and friendship to the less fortunate.
In rural Bomi County, a region to which thousands of people are returning after fleeing their homes during the civil war, Mercy Ships helped communities resume in their normal, daily activities. A construction team worked with local craftsmen in Royesville to re-roof a school ransacked by soldiers, enabling classes to start again after 13 years. Other teams provided 31 training sessions in community health and completed three latrines and four wells with 19 water and sanitation trainees.
The achievements of the first 98 days of Mercy Ships in Liberia are only the beginning, the organization reported.
The ship is scheduled to return after Liberias presidential elections in October 2005 and dock for a further eight months. In the second field assignment phase, Mercy Ships will build on the foundations laid during the first phase and continue bringing hope and healing to thousands more in Liberia.