Posted by on Jun 11, 2010 in Blog, General Information | 13 comments

Intro to Mercy Ships is over, for those of you wondering. I’ll see if I can impart some of my new-found knowledge to you here. It’s been like drinking from a fire hose, but I’ve learned a lot about Mercy Ships (MS) that I didn’t know or had only previously heard in rumor. Of course I also found out that there’s a professional blogger here with me who had already found and read my blog (and may be doing so now as well).

A man's Mustang(Only in Texas…)

Sadly, this won’t lead to any increase in the quality of my blog any time soon. Too lazy for that (as evidenced by my persistent refusal to make it work 100% properly with IE 7). You can check her out here. But back to this week.

The biggest thing that stood out to me this week was MS’ latest push towards sustainable development in the countries they serve. We only enter countries that have invited us in, and who have and are committed to a long-term national health plan. While the ship will only stay for 10 months at the longest our involvement in any given country will last for 5 years. The goal isn’t to just dig a well here and build a school there, but to raise the level of health care as a whole in the nation one notch at a time.

A photo of Benedict before his second clubbed foot operation

One of the biggest struggles as MS has trained indigenous surgeons hasn’t been with the surgeons themselves. They go back to their country far better equipped to serve their people. The problem as they go in is that the system they’re returning to is inferior to their training, and they end up either regressing to operating under the status quo or leaving the country entirely to find work.

In response to that MS is working diligently to raise the quality of the entire health system in a country one step at a time. This is far beyond the capacity of one organization, so MS works hard to partner with as many organizations as have the legal and spiritual authority to be and work in country. Ideally we leave behind a functioning platform for future growth and improvement, the last thing we want is for hope and healing to sail away with us when we leave port.

The Africa Mercy being tugged

The other thing that has caught my attention is the vision of the various department heads and ‘higher ups’ and their expressed desire to constantly seek to improve the organization and the results it can achieve. The classing of the ships is ambitious, seeking to meet the highest standards possible. The methods and management of MS has undergone change in an effort to improve training and quality of care.

There’s just a forward-looking mentality that seeks to find what’s broken and fix it as best as it can be with the time and resources at hand.

That’s some of the bigger stuff I’ve learned so far, but there’s been plenty of smaller facts that have caught my eye. One being that 80% of all disease in the developing world is caused by water-borne illness. If we could just provide clean water sources through education and aid we could eradicate so much suffering.

–It’s been two days since I wrote this draft now, I’ve been so busy with classes and getting to know people I haven’t been able to write/edit this. I’ll write more about my experiences on the flight home tomorrow. Either way it’s been flooding, we almost had a tornado, and the humidity has been insane. I’m getting used to being sticky all the time though.

I’m really excited to share more! I’ll write a blog about the trip itself when I start sitting around in airports with nothing to do tomorrow. If you have questions leave a comment below (no need to sign in or anything) and you can always grab me so we can get coffee or a cookie or something and talk in person!

The goal right now is to be on the ship by July 1st, so grab me while I last!