Partners in Mercy

By Jon Erickson, serving in Guinea, West Africa, with Compassion and Mercy Associates (CAMA), the relief and development arm of The Alliance.

“The world’s largest civilian hospital ship travels the West African coast, restoring sight to thousands and bringing smiles to faces once disfigured by tumors,” reported CBS’s 60 Minutes on Sunday, August 4. Alliance personnel have long partnered with Mercy Ships staff, says Jon, who works with the CAMA-founded Hope Medical Center. Many who would have had no access to critical care are experiencing physical and spiritual healing because of this strategic collaboration.

Our relationship with Mercy Ships began in 1998. This is when Hope Clinic staffer Moses Mamy and I took 16 people to the ship for surgery when it was docked in Conakry, Guinea’s capital. That was the last time it was in Conakry until it stopped there last year after the 60 Minutes special was filmed in Togo.

Over the years, I’ve taken or sent people to the ship when it was based in Gambia, Sierra Leone, or Liberia. More than 100 people have received life-changing surgeries conducted by Mercy Ships medical staff. Our clinic also has hosted Mercy Ships teams numerous times.

Pilot Programs

Last year we conducted two experimental programs with the organization. We looked for patients up-country and organized a mobile dental outreach with Mercy Ships staff in the Guekedou area of Guinea. These programs helped to determine whether this type of partnership could work in other countries.

In March 2010, I wrote in Alliance Life magazine: “In Guinea there are few surgeons who know how to treat tumors, cysts and cleft palates. This leaves many Guineans with life-threatening conditions and disfigurement that keep other people at a distance.”

Today I can report that Dr. Tony Giles, who has worked on the ship over the years with his wife, Ann, has trained our surgeon, Jean Yarendounou, in cleft lip surgery. (The Gileses are regular visitors to the clinic.) I believe Dr. Jean is now an official Mercy Ships cleft lip surgeon.

Last year, an orthopedic surgeon from the ship also trained Dr. Jean in club foot repairs. In January 2014, another medical worker, who is currently with the ship in Congo, will stay with us for six weeks to teach this technique to the rest of our staff.

Learn More

Find out more about the work of CAMA on their website located at today.


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