So a quick break from the darkness of Congolese authority and the scourges of leprosy. I have a whole back log of photographs from my time with Mercy Ships in Sierra Leone. I’ll be posting them sporadically throughout the year. Not much writing on this one, just a collection of my favourite photos from the ‘Hope Centre’. This is the off-ship building Mercy Ships uses to house patients that have a long recovery time and need extra therapy or rehabilitation. Everyone is taken very good care of here.
The painted wall mural on the walls outside the Hope Centre from when the Anastasis last visited just after the end of the Civil War.
Patients from Guinea play draughts/checkers the afternoon before they return home.
A young patient sleeps under his mosquito net in an air-conditioned ward in the Hope Centre.
A young cleft lip patient runs past the paintings made by Mercy Ministries group activities which connect non-medical crew to the patients.
Barry and Cheryl Wells run the Health Centre for half of the 24 hour shift.
The Hope Centre building was known in Freetown as Obama City. For some reason Mercy Ships decided to change it’s name…
Denise Miller leads the Mercy Ministries activities on an afternoon.
The Hope Centre is a pretty cheesy name in my opinion, but then I can’t deny that I really enjoyed the visits I had there. I only went a few times, but the hopefulness there smacked you in the face somewhat. If you walked in their off the street, whether you’re from Sierra Leone or the States you would be presented with children and adults with to be quite blunt quite alarming deformities and abnormalities to their faces, bodies and legs. But there is not even a hint of a Victorian Freak show about this place. You very quickly barely notice their physical differences because they are so happy to be there. The predictable cautiousness they have when they first enter the building evaporates within their first day – let alone the fact they are here to have life-changing surgery, they are made to feel loved from the very outset.
It’s what I love about Mercy Ships. It does cost a large amount to run the operation, and it does focus on the individual more than development, and it’s not work that Africa can make sustainable, but then sometimes it can only take one person to make a difference, and when you spend time in places like the Hope Centre you can see for yourself that every bit of effort made by the volunteer crew, and every dollar donated by those in ‘normal’ jobs back home is worth it.
NB – please look at the comments made by Mark Palmer. He is working with various off-ship programs to make sure they do have a long-lasting sustainable role in local development and training, so I take back my comments, apparently my view of Mercy Ships is much more in line with their old model which they are steering away from… excellent news.