Mercy Ships: Hope for a better future

1 Comment » Written on September 10th, 2010     
Filed under: Community Development
As a woman who has been privileged to grow up in the United States, I take certain things about my health for granted. Some things just seem like a given. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to serve with one of Covenant World Relief’s partners’ Mercy Ships onboard the Africa Mercy. Mercy Ships is an organization that uses hospital ships to provide free medical care and other resources to underdeveloped countries primarily in West Africa. I served with the Africa Mercy during its outreach in Liberia, and was able to see up close some of the healing and restoration that happens everyday. When there are less than four dentists in a country, you can only begin to imagine the difficulty in receiving medical care.

For many women in these countries, their greatest difficulty comes when they are giving birth. Since there is such limited care, many women experience what is known as a vesicovaginal fistula, or VVF, during childbirth. There are complications with the labor so that the women will be in labor for hours, sometimes even days, and will finally deliver a stillborn child. In addition to the sorrow and grief of losing a child, the trauma of the labor to their bodies leaves these women incontinent and excluded from society.  Many who had jobs before this now are put out of business and are forced to endure humiliation from the smell.

During my stay on the ship I befriended one such girl named Betty whose family had been forced to live in the bush after her father was killed during the Liberian Civil War. There she had met a married man and began an affair, only to become pregnant and give birth to a stillborn child and developed a VVF. It was devastating to hear her talk about the struggles that she had endured. But her powerful faith in a good and loving God amazed me, and I was so grateful that she had a chance to undergo a relatively easy surgery to correct the issue so that she would never have to be wet again.

When these women come to the ship, their lives are characterized by loneliness and shame. But through these surgeries they are restored with a sense of dignity and joy. When they leave the ship they are given a new dress to remind them of the new life they have been given through the grace of God. Please pray for the women of Togo, where the ships is currently stationed and CWR is partnering with Mercy Ships, that they may come to know God’s healing love through the chance for a new life because of these VVF surgeries.

–Written by Lizzy Dodd, intern with Covenant World Relief and senior at North Park University.

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One Response to “Mercy Ships: Hope for a better future”

I am getting ready to recieve ministry for early child sexual abuse issues–hard work. This article gave me the words to describe what I so desire. Surgeries/healing to restore dignity and joy. I have been/am a very angry woman who needs help. My intensive therapy will be from Oct.1-5. I look forward to my new dress after the surgery–this gives me much hope and peace. My mercy ship will look differant than the above but then…..only God.

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