Sunday, March 27, 2011
At our weekly community meeting after our challenging March 7, 2011 screening day, the offering was to cover the cost of the hospitalizations of the individuals who were injured on the screening day. While some of the crew members were at the local hospital sorting out the details they met another Christian doctor who was scheduled to operate on one of the woman whose jaw was broken throughout the course of events on Monday. He stated what ever costs we could cover with the offering would be helpful but any costs we could not cover he would do for free.
The director of the ship, Donavan Palmer, also spoke to the crew further regarding the events of Monday his message was timely. He stated there were not enough apologies for what happened on Monday. We have had several successful screening days in Sierra Leone in past out reaches. The advance team had successful screening days in the North of Sierra Leone as well. He thanked the crew for all their work and how we were able to work together through the tragedy. He recognized as an NGO we are not trained for disaster relief. He stated he was “gutted” for the new crew who were in Africa for 48 hours for this to be their first experience.
He re-iterated Africa is a wonderful continent. He stated there was very careful analysis being made of the events. He then instructed us each to extend grace to one anther and encouraged us with a message from John 14.
Our first days were busy preparing for the screening day scheduled for Monday, March 2,2011. Each outreach when we arrive at a new country we plan one or two screening days were thousands of people line up and we are able to screen the surgical candidates and fill the surgical schedule for the ten months the ship is docked.
We knew we would have our challenges in the war torn country of Sierra Leone, where there is a generation of young boys whose father figures were war lords who kept them in a drug induced state in order for them to committ atroucities of war.
The day did not go as planned. It turned out to be a challenging, heart wrenching day. "A very sad incident occurred in the course of screening activities today in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Sometime after 9:30 events yet to be conclusively determined occurred to agitate the crowd and cause it to storm the gate. In response 200 more people were admitted to relieve pressure, but tragically 13 were injured, including one fatality and two life threatening situations. Mercy Ships personnel on site cared for the victims and accompanied them to hospitals. No Mercy Ships personnel was injured. Ongoing investigation will determine the facts. Please keep the individuals affected and their families in prayer, and pray also for the entire crew. This is certainly a time to pray and believe that God will work all things together for good in this tragic situation."
Sunday, March 13, 2011
We arrrived at the ship after an eventful "water taxi" ride. Through the clear, dark river waters our water taxi's engine started, stopped, stopped, stopped, started.... we arrived safely to the ship. It was a refreshing ride after a the long flight from Brussels to Freetown, Sierra Leone.
When we arrive to the ship each crew member has their picture taken for a badge that must be worn at all times while on the ship for security reasons. One new crew member, a young pretty, nurse, who was soaked from head to toe from the water taxi ride was given the good news of her picture being taken. Smile.