We are a family of three; Andrew, Jodie and Jessica (aged 18) from Tasmania, Australia who are currently serving in Douala, Cameroon, Central Africa on the M/V Africa Mercy, the largest non-governmental hospital ship in the world, through Mercy Ships International. God has called us on a journey that has been many years in the making. For this season we call Africa home, as we seek to bring hope and healing to the poorest of the poor.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Update- Under a $1

Just an update on the Centre de Santé Health Centres in Guinea. Thanks to the amazing generosity of many, we were able to present the Assemblies of God Church with $750 USD to further medical aid for local Guineans. I presented the money in cash to Jonathan (above), our contact and also a pastor of The Assemblies of God Church, at the day worker celebration in May. I was able to give him a few Aussie souvenirs as well. He was overjoyed and wanted me to express his thanks to the generous people of Australia! So well done guys!!

This is what you have achieved EITHER:
5,000 vaccinations OR
5,000 worm treatments OR
50,000 Paracetamol tablets OR
1,228 Malaria tests OR
2,000 Doctor's consultations OR
2,000 Prescriptions OR
2,000 Lab services
 Thanks for being a part of the vision and for furthering the work of the Centre de Santé. Before we departed Guinea, Jonathan delivered two thank you letters to the ship from the Assemblies of God Church board. The first letter is in reference to your kind donations and the second letter is in reference to repairs that Andrew was able to make on one of their land rovers that was originally donated by Mercy Ships ten years ago. Below is a translation of the letters as they are in French. Sorry I had to use Google translate so the translation is not perfect and the old saying that things are lost in translation, I’m sure applies!

Letter 1

Centre de Santé The Assemblies of God Guinea

Conakry 21st May 2013

Responsible for Mercy Ships

Object: Thank you letter

 We health centres Assemblies of God Guinea have the pleasure of coming hereby thank you for all technical assistance and grants that you grant us during your stay in Guinea.

We will always remain grateful to you all, sending our fraternal greetings,

The Director CS AD Guinea

Dr. Ouffoue K. Valentin

Letter 2

The Assemblies of God church of Guinea

Managers of boat Mercy Ships

Well like in Christ

 Receive our fraternal greetings Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. For us it is a real joy to be able to express our gratitude face has everything you had to do to us during your long stay in Guinean land. Our thanks go to all your teams in general, but especially to the brothers Andrew mechanic team and Oscar the medical team for their various support they have kindly provide us with love.

Thank you also for the advance work you have allowed several of the brothers and sisters of our assemblies to do with the boat teams. Thank you very much and that the Lord continues to bless you and make your ministry a blessing through the world.

For the Assemblies of God Church of Guinea
The President
Pastor Joegbean Tokpah Gbanamou

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie- oi, oi, oi!


Monday, August 05, 2013

Mangos give you Malaria!

You can catch malaria from eating mangoes or when the moon is full. If you have scabies in your home you need to get rid of everything and move house. HIV/Aids is spread by touch. If your baby has diarrhea you shouldn't give them anything to eat or drink. Babies only need two vaccinations. Coconut water is the best food for a baby up to two years old. It's okay for animals to directly share our drinking water. A person can get worms by a being sneezed on by an infected person.

With the scary combinations of traditional medicine, ignorance and poverty, people in West Africa are dying every day from preventable diseases. There my challenge lay. To change the mindset and to educate over 100 hospital day workers in community health education, on the Africa Mercy during our Guinea field service. No, I am not a nurse or a doctor. My only claim to the health care system in that I was privileged enough to be born into a highly developed nation with trained specialists at every corner.

Like a proud mother hen watching over her chicks I witnessed the education and knowledge of the day workers grow over the ten months we were in Guinea. One of those rare moments that overwhelm you was watching Marcus, a hospital day worker, sitting on a stool in the wards. He had in his hands the giant flash cards we use for teaching and he was meticulously teaching a group of VVF ladies, their gowns flapping around their ankles, listening intently. But the beauty for me was in the translation-the teaching was simultaneously being translated into four different languages. Then I knew that I had achieved something special. Even if those women didn't remember much of what they were taught, maybe, just maybe they might remember enough to save the life of their child one day.

The idea was simple-nine different topics with accompanying multiple choice test. Nurses were recruited as teachers and classes were conducted, with the aid of flash cards, one to three times a week, rotating though the nine topics. Once the test was passed the day worker was then eligible to teach patients the same information in the patients first language. The much more complicated. The laminated topic packs were all in disarray and many of them contained contradicting information. The tests need to be made, statistics kept, teachers recruited, meetings, emails, marking and returning of over 1000 test, spread sheets etc., etc.  In the beginning the rewards were few and the hours were many and at times, I felt as if I wanted to walk away and that I just couldn't cope if one more day worker called out to me down the halls of the hospital........ "Jodie, I have a question". Painstakingly I dealt with each and every enquiry and each and every request in order to honour these men and women in their quest for knowledge and their desire to better their community. Mummy Jodie I became known as. The honour was all mine....

Community Health Education classes (CHE) taking place in the Africa Mercy dining room.

Another class.

Nurse Lydia teaches on Malaria.

The multiple choice Malaria test.

It was with pleasure that I accepted an invitation to attend the Hope Centre (Hospital Outpatient Extension Centre) Community Health Education certificate presentation at the completion of the Guinea field service. I had not met the Hope Centre day workers and they could finally put a name to a face i.e. me! Above are the two books that were donated to each of the participants of the CHE during the Guinea field service 2012/13.

Above I am presenting certificates to the Hope Centre day workers who toiled to complete each of the nine topics. Well done Hope Centre day workers!

Hope Centre day workers proudly show off their certificates!

After the presentation we celebrated further with some traditional West African praise and worship. It was raw and beautiful.

To cap it all off we enjoyed a West Africa feast of chicken with peanut sauce and jollof rice.

A few days later it was the hospital day workers (on board) turn to receive their certificates. I had been advertising for weeks and was a little concerned that not many would turn up. When in Africa I find the old bush telegraph works wonders. I went to each of the wards and the tents and reminded a few and told them to "tell everyone else". I felt my heart swell as we had to pull over more and more chairs as day workers and their supervising crew members turned up. It was a wonderful culmination of a years hard work and I don't think I couldn't have asked or prayed for better closure or a deeper satisfaction of a job well done.

Handing out some small gifts and thanking some of the amazing nurses that taught the CHE classes outside of their working hours. I was blessed to have some extremely passionate teachers with a heart for spreading the truths of health education.

Me and Marthe-Wards

Me and Mariama-Wards

 Me and Djibril-Eye team

Me and Anama-Rehab

Andy helping to serve ice cream to the eager masses!

Serious group shot!

 Fun group shot! The day workers were jubilant to finally receive their hard earned certificates. At least once a week I would be asked about their certificates. You see these certificates are more than just a piece of paper for these day workers. They are a symbol of a better life, the opportunity for employment after the ship has departed, the acknowledgement of acquired information that so many of them were keen to pass onto their schools, churches and community's and the chance to save a life!

 I miss you guys! Thanks for blessing me!