Yet again we have set sail! Again we are floating upon the majestic ocean, full of creatures waiting to be delighted in upon our sighting! (no dolphins yet!)
We are off to Conakry, Guinea, West Africa.
Guinea, formerly known as French Guinea, has a population of 10,057,975 and an area of 246,000 square kilometres (roughly the size of the UK). The capital city is Conakry, where the M/V Africa Mercy will be docked. It is a predominantly Islamic country, with Muslims representing 85% of the population. Christians and Roman Catholic make up about 10%. The economy is largely dependent on agriculture and mineral production. It is the world’s second largest producer of bauxite. Interestingly Australia was, in 2010, the top producer of bauxite, although Guinea has a larger reserve. Guinea also has rich deposits of diamonds and gold.
The health statistics are not so great. Age expectancy in years- Male: 49, Female: 55, Probability of dying under age 5- 14.2%, Physicians per 1,000 people: 1.
Although the statistics look and are terrible, the West Africans that I know do not live with these numbers hanging over their heads, colouring their lives. They live and love deeply despite the statistics and they have taught me so much about loving those around me.
This morning we had a screening meeting for the day where we will meet most of our patients for the next 10 months that we are docked in Conakry. I am again privileged to be the Team Leader, along with my friend Hannah, at the History station, where we will lead a team of 18 nurses and 18 translators to explore the medical and surgical history of every patient that comes as a surgical candidate to screening day. It is a truly amazing day to be a part of. We are able to see the patients that will be able to have a life-changing surgery and give them hope for their future.
We would love you to join with us in praying for the day, for calm people waiting in long lines, for wisdom for so many decisions being made, for fine weather (it's the middle of rainy season where it rains every day!) and for God's strength and energy to fill us as we work long hours in an exhausting, busy area.
Although I only took 3 weeks of holidays off ship, we have been away from Africa for 2 months and docked in Tenerife with access to everything one would need (even if everything is written in Spanish which I can't read). My job has been updating and writing hospital policies. It has had it’s moments of monotony but I certainly can't complain with the flexibility I've been given in which to do the work. After the screening meeting this morning though, I am itching to be back in Africa, the continent I love so deeply, and to immerse myself once again in nursing and caring for those that need a little love.
What exciting things will God do in and though me in these next 10 months in Guinea? I am excited to find out! In the meantime I will sit back and watch for dolphins, gaze out upon the open ocean, watch the sunlight glittering over the water, with my computer sitting on my lap updating a policy on Paediatric Medication Administration!