On August 17, Mercy Ships was greeted with a welcome ceremony. Several prominent figures from Cameroon were in attendance, and the Minister of National Health and the Douala Municipal Committee welcomed the volunteer crew. Furthermore, the ten-month mission is under the patronage of Cameroon’s First Lady, Chantal Biya.
In Cameroon, a country in Central Africa where some 24 million people live, there are only 21 hospital beds for 10,000 inhabitants and 7 doctors for 1 million citizens. In addition to providing free surgical operations to those who need them most, within the framework of strengthening the country’s health system, Mercy Ships plans to provide training and mentoring and renovate buildings that will then be used by the Cameroonian Ministry of Health.
Operations in Cameroon began on September 4. Little Justine, 11 years old, got the ball rolling: her bowed legs will be straightened out in the coming weeks: new hope is emerging for her future!
To support the 400 volunteers from around the world in the various work areas on board, more than 260 Cameroonians have been hired. These local professionals, workers, mechanics, radiology assistants and dining room staff will go on board every day of the week to help serve the people of their country. Their knowledge of local languages and English is an important part of their role, enabling the crew of Africa Mercy to communicate easily with patients.
Preparations for this mission began several months prior to the ship’s arrival. A building has been completely renovated and set up to serve as an extension of the floating hospital on the ground. It will remain operational following Mercy Ships’ departure.