These are the Mercy Ships, ‘floating hospitals’ that change thousands of lives every year along the west coast of Africa.
For over 35 years, non-government organisation Mercy Ships has operated a unique fleet of ‘hospital ships’ with one task in mind: to provide medical care to those without the means to help themselves.
Aboard one of those ships, the Africa Mercy, life is not the usual. The Africa Mercytraverses the west coast of Africa, docking in various partnering countries to offer life-changing surgeries to the poorest of the poor.
The ship and those on board specialise in unattainable surgeries for people suffering as a result of specific conditions, the majority of which involve the removal of tumours and cataracts, as well as palate and cleft lip reconstruction.
In many regions in central and west Africa, especially the Niger Delta, facial abnormalities are often considered ‘curses’ by the local people, and sufferers of such physical afflictions are often ostracized and marginalised from participating in normal everyday community life.
Some of them are even forced to refrain from being seen publicly during the day, leaving them to forage for food only after the sun goes down.
It’s under these circumstances that Mercy Ships and all its supporters step in, to help change the fortunes of even just one individual forever.