Did you know that Mercy Ships Global isn’t just based on a hospital ship? Did you know we have 16 national offices all over the world?
Our South Africa office has organized an off-ship project called Mercy Vision that will begin at the end of this month. Mercy Vision will be held at a local hospital in Mthatha (hometown of Nelson Mandela, or so Wikipedia says) and will provide free cataract surgeries to hundreds of patients who otherwise would have had no access to treatment. Blind people are going to see again because of Mercy Vision.
An awesome eye surgeon named Dr. Strauss, who hails from Tyler, TX, US of A, will travel there with from the ship to perform cataract surgeries AND to train local surgeons. Because the only thing better than healing patients is healing them while teaching local doctors how to go out and heal even more patients of their own.
For the purpose of covering the program and generating written content for Mercy Ships, I am heading to South Africa in a few days to join the team of 10 that will be there. And while the anticipation of boarding an airplane always make me happy, that happiness is magnified greatly if the destination is South Africa’s beautiful Eastern Cape to watch blind people be healed and then write about it while simultaneously keeping an eye out for elephants.
Making the trip even more of an adventure is the fact that I have a quick layover in Côte d’Ivoire, then Togo, followed by an overnight layover in Addis Ababa. In case you have not recently taken a look at a map of Africa, allow me to refresh your memory:
Notice anything? Yep. It appears that from West Africa, Addis Ababa is in no way a convenient pit stop. Why am I flying by way of Ethiopia, then? Because this route was a better way than the only other alternative…which was via Frankfurt, Germany. (You don’t get a map for that one.) Luckily I am now used to the fact that on most days, nothing in Africa is easy, least of all traveling around it. As any parents would be, mine were just tickled to hear that their daughter would be cruising around the whole of sub-Saharan Africa for two days. Please send them your prayers and blood pressure medication. Addis Ababa or bust.
I look forward to spending this coming weekend in Africa in the most general sense. No place in particular, just the whole thing: Africa. Everywhere. Nowhere. I’ll happily be be-bopping over this glorious continent, requiring a horrifying amount of jet fuel while searching for people who speak English so I can find a place to re-charge my iPod in various airports. Then after Mercy Vision, I’ll retrace my steps back again to Guinea and sleep for a week.
So in the (likely) event that Internet/time is limited for the rest of this month, don’t you worry – I haven’t fallen off the map. I’m just on an airplane cruising around, somewhere high above it.
See you in March!
p.s. Oui & oui, I am on Instagram/Twitter: @clarkemurphy
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