Checking in on Mercy Ships

In sub-Saharan Africa and other struggling parts of the world, many people suffer from preventable diseases – conditions that are rarely seen in first-world countries. For instance, it is estimated that almost half of the population in sub-Saharan Africa suffers from cataracts, a preventable, curable visual disorder that eventually leads to blindness. In such circumstances, charitable organizations can make a big difference by screening for preventable disease and by providing treatment if needed. One laudable charity that is having a great impact in this and other poor countries is Mercy Ships.

The goal of Mercy Ships is to “bring hope and healing to the forgotten poor.” With its fleet of watercraft, Mercy Ships delivers high-quality health care to needy individuals across the globe. COAST supports Mercy Ships by donating our G10 and A5 LED flashlights, which are utilized in visual screening tests, as we blogged about last November. Back then, Mercy Ships Eye Program leader John Foster reported that the COAST LED flashlights were “a critical part of our screening process, enabling us to check every person who comes to us for help.” Now, almost one year later, we’re checking in on how Mercy Ships is doing and how its patients have healed.

It turns out that those visual tests and LED flashlights, along with Mercy Ships’ treatment expertise, have made a huge difference. As a recent Mercy Ship blog post detailed, African patients who were completely blinded by cataracts are now able to see. Many of these individuals slipped slowly into darkness, knowing they were going blind but also aware that surgery was impossible to afford. They became increasingly reliant on others and were often unable to work or even leave their homes. Mercy Ships’ healing mission has turned all of that around. The independence that comes along with vision is one of the most precious outcomes. As volunteer surgeon Dr. Wodome put it, “This is something really special. This is life-changing for me, as much as it is to the patients.”

Beyond this incredible accomplishment, Mercy Ships is also partnering with EMI (Engineering Ministries International) to assess and improve hospitals in Sierra Leone. Major structural, electrical and sanitation challenges in these hospitals severely limit health outcomes. As we continue to support Mercy Ships through donations of our LED flashlights, COAST looks forward to watching this incredible organization help people in Sierra Leone and across the globe.

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