Report of General Monthly Meeting - September 2018

The Work of the Mercy Ships by Ruth Guy

Mercy Ships is a charitable organisation that provides free surgeries on its hospital ship which is usually found moored in a port in a West African country such as Togo, Benin, Sierra Leone, Guinea or Cameroon. Four hundred volunteers from all over the world work on the ship – including doctors, nurses, ship’s crew, kitchen staff – all giving their time and expertise for free. Ruth Guy, who is a member of the Mercy Ships’ Board, gave an inspiring presentation about the amazing and life-changing work of the Mercy Ships.

We learned that in Benin, for example, where the ship was moored in 2016-17, nearly 2000 operations were carried out, together with 15000 dental treatments. Ruth showed us examples of patients with a range of medical problems which had been successfully treated, from those with appalling tumours, to children with cleft palates or badly burned and to mothers who had suffered damage in childbirth.

The hospital ship provides a safe, secure environment for both staff and patients, and since it has its own electrical supply and oxygen equipment, this is not subject to sabotage. We were told that an additional larger ship will be brought into operation in 2019/20. The charity works closely with the hosting African country, planning the visit of the ship several years in advance and ensuring that advance publicity informs local people of its arrival. The invaluable work of Mercy Ships is made possible by, on the one hand, volunteers staffing the ship (and paying their own expenses as well as giving freely of their time and expertise) and, on the other hand, donations from members of the public.


Julia Whitburn