Mercy Ships Update

From left to right: nurse, surgeon, nurse, anaesthetist, anaesthetic assistant & nurse!

Please see below for an update from Lynn Eastlund following her arrival in Benin.

Dear Christ Church family

I arrived safely in Cotonou, Benin on Sunday evening after a long day travelling. I have the privilege of spending two weeks on the Africa Mercy, the ex-train transporting ship that Mercy Ships had re-fitted as a hospital. I am here in the role of anaesthetic assistant, supporting the anaesthetists in the operating theatre. This week we started the women’s health program that is running alongside their ophthalmic, dental and maxo-facial/head & neck programs.

Due to the lack of access to proper obstetric care here in Benin many women present with surgical needs that you and I could never dream of. One very important operation we provide is vaginal fistula repair. Many women are rejected by their husbands, families and communities due to the consequences of developing a fistula through childbirth. Our VVF program restores these dear ladies to their families and communities as whole women, no longer constantly smelling of urine (and in some cases faeces). My favourite part of the operation is when they wake up – as I call their name I also say “C’est fini”. Can you imagine the freedom they will know from now on. Unfortunately I won’t be here long enough to attend the “New dress celebration” – the service of thanksgiving and celebration when each lady is given and new dress to signify their healing and new life! I’m reliably informed these occasions are full of joyful smiles, dancing and singing.

What a joy too to pray together as an operating room team before each list begins and also the surgeon will pray just before “knife to skin” for help and safety for them and the patient. Perhaps this practice should be adopted as part of the internationally accepted World Health Organisation “Time out”! Thank you for partnering with me here in Benin. You, by extension are being the hands and feet of Jesus here, bringing the much needed hope and healing to some of the world’s poorest people.