How is it the end of February already?! Time flies so fast on the ship. It feels like the other day I was in Texas warding off chiggers. Now I'm hitting the tail end of the Benin field service! Just a recap, here are some stats from January: 

  • 302 OR visits from 285 unique patients
  • 346 X-Rays Completed
  • 1,885 Lab Tests Completed
  • 28 Units of Blood Transfusions
  • 830 Unique Dental Patients
  • 361 Outpatient Visits
  • 3,759 Eye Patient Encounters for Assessment and Treatment
  • 177 Eye Surgeries Performed
  • 1,228 Patient Encounters at the Eye Clinic

It's so gratifying to be a part of something that leaves such a lasting impact. Below is a video I edited showing you what I've been up to these last few months. I hope you enjoy. :)

Remember the photo I took that was published? I want to tell you about Mabouba. During that time, she captured the hearts of the entire Communications team. Below is an excerpt one of the writers onboard wrote.

Mabouba first came to the Africa Mercy in a peach-colored dress, a thin veil waving around her face and flapping against her swollen cheek. Her dress whipped around her frail legs as she climbed the gangway, her ascent slow and labored. That day, no one had any idea what Mabouba had been through for the last six years, nor how close her brush with death was yet to be. 

“It was in 2010 that it started,” the 23-year-old recalls. Mabouba was finishing up her junior year of high school with plans to become a midwife. Then the tumor appeared, and everything changed. For the next six years, Mabouba remained at home, staying with her elder brother in Togo while the rest of her family lived abroad in Switzerland.  

By 2014, her tumor had grown so much that it began to block Mabouba’s esophagus and windpipe. “It had become very hard for her to eat, even to breathe,” recalls her Uncle Yousef, shaking his head. “Even in the night you could hear – she was drawing air with great difficulty.” Unable to swallow more than little bits of rice, eggs and torn-up morsels of bread, the young woman began to starve. Uncles, grandparents and cousins gathered what money they could and sent Mabouba to Ghana for surgery.  

But there, calamity struck. “The doctors said they had to remove some teeth before they could remove her tumor,” recalls her Uncle Yousef. “But something went wrong, and she was bleeding, bleeding, bleeding everywhere.” He looks down as he recalls this. “She almost died.” 

With the precious money gone and her health in shards, Mabouba returned home. “Those days my mind was preoccupied with the tumor,” she recounts. “I could think of little else.”  

In January 2016 Mabouba’s father came to Togo to see her. Shocked by her condition, he contacted the Swiss Mercy Ships office and found out that the floating hospital would be coming back to Benin that very August … and, yes, Mabouba would be seen.   

Finally, on September 17th, 2016, the young woman arrived at the ship and slowly lifted her feather-light frame up the gangway. “When I finally stepped onboard, I felt immediately different.” she recounts. This moment had been six years coming. “I said to myself then, ‘I’m already healed.’”  

After nine long hours, Mabouba was finally wheeled out of the operating theater. Miracle of all miracles, her tumor was gone. 

“I remember when I woke up – I was transformed. I was a new person,” Mabouba recalls, wiping tears from her eyes. “You have saved my life, and I don’t know how to thank you. But God says when you care for your neighbor, heaven will be guaranteed for you. So I wish you heaven.”

Thank you for your love, and thank you for your support. It's been an incredible and eye opening journey.