BENEFITTING OVER 2.8 MILLION PEOPLE

(July 27, 2021) Caloundra, Queensland. Diane Rickard
International Media Relations Manager, Mercy Ships shares Mercy Ships good news…

Global health charity, Mercy Ships, reports that after a completion and acceptance ceremony on June 16, followed by a handover celebration at the Tianjin Xingang shipyard this past week, the world’s largest civilian hospital ship, Global Mercy™, has successfully been delivered and the charity has taken possession of their brand-new vessel.

Dream come true
‘This day is a dream come true – not only for us, but for those we serve,’ stated Don Stephens, Mercy Ships founder who spoke via video to those attending. ‘African heads of states and ministers of health have often expressed a desire for more of their healthcare professionals to be trained in-country. This ship will do exactly that. Many who suffer from disability and disfigurement will have access to surgical treatment and whole-person care in healthcare systems that will enable them to reach their God-given potential. We hope that this new vessel and the volunteer crew who serve on her will bring hope, healing and transformation for the next 40-50 years,’ he added.

Per Westling, CEO of Stena RoRo, said ‘We are very proud to take delivery of this special ship. The activities to be carried out on board have placed special and high demands on the construction of this ship. For the yard, it was the first time this type of vessel was built – a challenge that they managed very well. For Mercy Ships, delivery means that their capacity to help more than doubles. And at Stena RoRo we are happy to be a part of their fantastic work through Global Mercy.

Mercy Ships has been working on this new ship project for more than eight years. Contracts were signed in 2013, and the keel laid in 2015. Sea trials were successfully completed in late April this year.

Other dreams come true
Such as the hope and healing that came to Salematu when she was only 24… starting with a toothache when she first noticed the pain in her mouth. As a first-year nursing student, she knew she should go to the dentist, but she was struggling. She had just lost her husband unexpectedly, leaving her with two young daughters. Money was low, and medical costs were high.

All the while, Salematu was told by doctors: There was nothing they could do. They did not have the medical capacity to help her. Over time, she was forced to abandon her dream of finishing nursing school. What use was it to continue studying if her tumour kept her from working?

‘I felt helpless. I shouldn’t look like this,’ she recalls.

The first glimmer of hope came the day her uncle called her with news from the port city of Conakry – a hospital ship was arriving to perform free surgeries! Salematu’s heart was filled with happiness at the hope of release from the tumour. She got on a bus and made the journey to the capital city alone, leaving her daughters behind with their grandmother. But she knew that this surgery would not only save her life – it would save her daughters from growing up as orphans! The day she walked up the gangway to receive her operation, Salematu says she felt joy down to her bones.

The next two weeks in the hospital were a blur. After her successful surgery, she bonded with the nurses who gave her around-the-clock care. After a few days, she was able to look into the mirror and see her new face for the first time after surgery. ‘I feel beautiful. I feel good. I feel hopeful,’ she marvelled.

During her stay on the Africa Mercy, Salematu couldn’t stop thinking about the moment she would be reunited with her daughters, when they would finally see her without the tumour that had hindered her smile for two long years. ‘The nurses are my favourite,’ Salematu adds. ‘They were so kind to me. They have all become my friends.’

Equipping the world’s largest NGO hospital ship
This month, the Global Mercy is scheduled to sail to Europe where, hosted by the Port of Antwerp from early September, it will be further outfitted with IT and medical equipment installations and soft furnishings.

Mercy Ships volunteer crew will also begin to join the ship in stages during this phase which concludes with open events in Rotterdam in Q1 2022 where the ship will be presented to sponsors, future volunteers, the media and other interested parties. A further Africa welcome is being planned in Dakar, Senegal before the ship begins full operation.

It is estimated that surgical conditions account for nearly one-third of all disease in the world (Lancet 2015). Building on the charity’s more than 30 years of experience in Africa delivering surgical care, the Global Mercy is equipped with first-class training facilities designed to multiply impact within the nations served. Volunteer professionals will contribute alongside local healthcare professionals in the host country. With 12 decks, the 37,000 GRT Global Mercy is equipped with six operating theatres, hospital beds for 200 patients, a full laboratory, and simulation training areas.

A global collaboration
Swedish shipbuilders Stena RoRo has been responsible for construction supervision of this unique project. French company Barry Rogliano Salles (BRS) acted as a broker, detailed designs were completed by Deltamarin in Finland and construction has been carried out in China.

The Global Mercy is classified by Lloyd’s Register in the UK and sails under the Maltese flag. Many more companies from around the globe contributed to the ship’s completion which is a first of its kind.

Mercy Ships is ramping up their recruitment of long and short-term volunteer professionals to lend their time and expertise in this new season. More than 640 medical, maritime and programmatic crew will be able to live and serve onboard with space for up to 950 on ship when it is docked. Currently, Mercy Ships crew come from more than 60 nations. For more information see www.opportunities.mercyships.org.

About Mercy Ships
Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care services, capacity building, and sustainable development to those with little access in the developing world.

Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens (right), Mercy Ships has worked in more than 55 developing countries, providing services valued at more than $1.7 billion and directly benefitting more than 2.8 million people.

Our ships are crewed by volunteers from over 60 nations, with an average of over 1,200 volunteers each year. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, mariners, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills. With 16 national offices and an Africa Bureau, Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time.

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For more intemational information, contact: Diane Rickard, International Media Relations Manager, Mercy Ships diane.rickard@mercyships.org. Australia links: msaust@mercyships.org.au / Toni Keighley Donor Services Coordinator toni.keighley@mercyships.org Ph: 1300 739 899
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