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, May 21, 2014

On the Streets

Everybody is staring at me, I can feel their eyes boring into me. I feel so conspicuous with my white skin and flaming red hair. The heat is oppressive, I can feel the sweat building and I have only been outside for a short time. There is garbage everywhere, the smells overwhelm me. Rickety houses constructed of corrugated metal and cardboard threaten to topple over at any given moment. There are people everywhere and the traffic is chaos. Welcome to my first time on the streets of West Africa-Bad Boy Lane, Freetown, Sierra Leone. I lasted about ten minutes.
How things have changed. Yes, I am still stared at whenever I go (and often complimented on my "fatness"). It is still stifling hot, it still smells in the city, the traffic still sucks and the poverty is evident wherever you cast your eyes. But now I call Africa home. What used to frighten me I now find comforting and familiar. What I used to think strange I now find amusing. Like for example, the unique toilets! Have a look around Pointe Noire, The Republic of the Congo, my streets.....


Spare parts?

Hungry? Take away like the locals do it! "Street meat"!

Want to do a spot of shopping, need a gift, a rubbish bin, a container, an avocado, a suitcase, jewellery, African crafts, baguettes, stationary, jeans, shoes, fruit, fish, umbrella, furniture, pedestal fan, office chair, toys, candy, broom, material, sunglasses, DVD's (illegal, of course), watch, perfume.................You name it, you can find it on the streets and in the Marché (market).But be prepared to bargain your heart out! 

Street scapes...

Fresh doughnuts?

Manioc (cassava) and edible, starchy, tuberous root and a local staple being made by a Pointe Noire woman.
"Cassava is the third largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics, after rice and maize.[1][2] Cassava is a major staple food in the developing world, providing a basic diet for over half a billion people.[3] It is one of the most drought tolerant crops, capable of growing on marginal soils. "(Wikipedia)

If you can't cope with the culture shock of the bustling, throbbing Marché, you can always try a local Super Marché (supermarket) with it's overinflated prices and limited stock.

Coka (Coke)-The Universal drink of nations!


A huge puddle glistens as the sun fades over the horizon. Rainy season makes its mark.

The view, through one of the land rover front windscreens, of a giant puddle, more like a lake. The best bit is that you never know just quite how deep they really are....

Transport? The train that runs through the port.

There is always room for one more!

Inside one of the taxi vans, a very popular mode of transport around the streets of Pointe Noire.

The huge train station outside the port that runs a regular service from Pointe Noire to the nation's capital, Brazzaville and forms an essential link between the two cites. Many of our patients travelled by train.

Some amazing aerial views of the city of Pointe Noire.

Fishing boats litter the beach front.

Pointe Noire's iconic natural attraction, The Diosso Gorge, located about forty five minutes outside the city. Boasting spectacular views and a thriving chimpanzee population! Yep, we are in the jungle folks!

Diosso Gorge wildlife.

Trip to the beach anyone???

Ahhhh...that's better! West and Central Africa have some stunning beaches. Unfortunately, in many situations, they have been used as a dumping ground for garbage and human waste.

Le Port Autonome de Pointe Noire (Port of Pointe Noire). It's always good to come home after a day out!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Baby Bubbles

Bath time in the wards is so much fun! Couldn't resit posting pics of these bath time beauties!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The President's in Town!

A shiny new coat of paint shone in the sunlight off the warehouse opposite the ship. Port employee's had been busy for days patching up holes, quickly building footpaths, painting, sweeping and beautifying the port and especially our berth. Likewise the ship was being spit polished until the emergency strips along the floor were gleaming. Shirts were ironed and epaulettes attached, African outfits were donned and the crew were briefed. Our berth was transformed into a reception area decked out in marquees the colours of the Congolese flag. The President was coming to town!!

President Denis Sassou Nguesso of The Republic of the Congo had travelled down from his home in Brazzaville, the capital of the Congo to visit our little ship. The people of Pointe Noire rose to the occasion and put on quite the show! The Congolese Navy, port officials, military, the Gendarme, the media and many other dignitaries all turned out to honour and welcome the President.

The President is presented with a bouquet of flowers from Academy student Caroline Marx from South Africa.

Mercy Ships founder Don Stephens, who flew in especially for the occasion from the International Operations Centre in Texas, greets the President on the dock.

A member of the media races up the gangway to get the best angle of the President making his ascent.

The President and his entourage make their way up the gangway.

Our Captain (temporarily, as our permanent Captain was on leave) greets the President at the top of the gangway.

The Presidents passes on his appreciation to the crew for all they have done for his nation.

Signing the visitor's book.

Don Stephens and The Africa Mercy Government Liaison, Pierre Christ present the President with a framed photo of the Africa Mercy.

Don and President Denis captured in a jovial moment.

Each time a President, media team or dignitary comes to the ship, a tour of the hospital is included as it forms the basis of all we do and why the ship exists. President Sassou Nguesso became visibly moved when visiting with the patients and viewing the confronting images of the before.

With Don Stephens and Chief Medical Officer and 27 year Mercy Ships veteran, Dr, Gary Parker.

Before and after.......

It is a very great honour for the ship to host the President of the nation that we have been invited to berth in, to bring hope and healing to the poorest of poor. A President can open doors that we cannot and though a President’s powerful influence we can find our way to new regions and gain favour amongst a country’s elite. It is also a chance for us to influence a nation by being a witness, as the hands and feet of Jesus, while the most powerful man in the nation watches on.

"And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it."Revelation 21:24

 "Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there. All governments have been placed in power by God." Romans 13:1