These are two photos from our Screening in Mahajanga back in September that just became available from our communications department. We really do travel in style: a 10-seater plane and then a vintage Puegot to pick us up from the airport.
I’ve worked with Mercy Ships for a combined total of a little over three years at this point. I first started in 2003, then again for a short time in 2007, and then I returned to the ship in 2012 as a nurse and have spent more time here since then than any other place. So after all this time my parents finally were able to visit and see first hand what I have been up to. We had a lot of fun.
This photo was taken this past Saturday on our flight back from our screening in Antsiranana. In Madagascar we have the unique privilege of partnering with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), an NGO that helps people like us get around to remote areas of the island or to cities much quicker than we could by ground transportation. Our screening program would be much more limited if not for our partnership with MAF – we are flying with them to 9 of the 11 cities we are screening in this field service.
On three occasions now patients have flown back to the ship with us on our MAF flight, saving them several days to weeks of hard travel to Toamasina. We hope that we can expand the flying of patients more in the coming months as we are traveling to a couple of cities that will become very difficult to travel from when the rainy season hits in full.
The pilot in the picture is Patrick. I am so thankful for him and the rest of the MAF team. We couldn’t be reaching so much of this country without their incredible partnership. It is such a great pleasure to work with them.
This is Pierre, one of our trusted, veteran daycrew on the Screening Team. On Thursday he explained to 49 patients the process of traveling from Antsiranana to Toamasina and what it would be like to be in the care of Mercy Ships. I can’t imagine what we would do without him and the rest of our team.
Photo taken at our first day of screening in Antsiranana, Madagascar.
In case you are following in real time I just want to give a brief update that our team is heading out on another screening Trip. We fly out to Antsiranana in the far north today and then have our patient selection days on Thursday and Friday. Back to the AFM on Saturday.
For this entry I’ll share what I sent back to the ship on Thursday evening after our last day screening in Mahajanga:
It was another great day in Mahajanga. Today we had considerably less patients than yesterday (prescreened 627 patients, scheduled 55) – we prescreened 132 potential patients today and scheduled 31 for surgeon screenings. There were so many amazing aspects of this screening. For starters, the hospital staff couldn’t have been a more hospitable and generous partner in this work. We loved working with them. And then there were the patients we had originally met in January 2015 at the last screening in Mahajanga who returned for various reasons.
Albertine came yesterday and we scheduled her for an ICBG (Iliac Crest Bone Graft) surgery, the important second stage operation after removal of a mandibular tumor. She’ll make her way to Toamasina in just a few short weeks. Faharoa also came and we scheduled her for a third operation. Our surgeons will keep working to reduce the large venous malformation obscuring the left side of her face. We had a patient we scheduled last time that came back because he missed his appointment due to his mother’s death. Another patient from January lost her appointment card when her house burned down several months ago and the cards were destroyed. What a blessing to be able to come back to Mahajanga again for these second chances.
Not only do we get the opportunity to offer second chances to missed opportunities because we are in Madagascar for back-to-back field services but we have the privilege of seeing healed patients from last field service. Today, Fitia came to see us. This unforgettable patient flew back with us on our MAF flight at the end of our last time in Mahajanga in order to receive immediate medical and surgical attention for her burn wounds. Today we saw her laughing, smiling, and joyfully playing in the very same hallways where she had presented to us frail, afraid, and in severe pain. Her skin graft looked amazing and her range of motion is nearly perfect. I’m not sure how to describe this experience of seeing her again, this time healthy and healed, other than calling it sacred and beautiful. We are lucky to bear witness to this kind of wonder.
We are also humbled and privileged to be sent out by the Mercy Ships family to do this work. Thank you all for this opportunity and for your support.
Nate Claus, Field Screening Coordinator
Below is a picture with Fitia and her mother. We had the opportunity to visit them in their home the following day and I hope to have some pictures to share from that experience soon.
“For Sambany surgery was a personal issue. For developing nations, it is an economic issue. For the world, it is a moral issue, a question of equity.”
This is from an op-ed piece co-authored by one of our Max-Fax surgeons. I hope you read the entire article and see why I so strongly believe in the work that I get to be a part of here. I think it’s making a difference on so many levels. You can read it here.
I’m a week late, I know. We got back to the ship last Thursday from our first Field Screening and I soon feel ill. So that’s my excuse and my toilet can vouch for me. So to bide my time until I feel well enough and can muster the energy to do a “real” post I’ll leave you with this photo, which was taken last week in Manakara. I was told by the driver that I had to sit shotgun and this is apparently how that looks.