Posted by Sharon Schendel on Sep 03, 2018
Judi Westberg, Regional Development Officer for Mercy Ships brought plenty of informational materials
Our Program Chair Scott MacDonald connected with Judi Westberg, Regional Development Officer for Mercy Ships who presented to our club on August 30, 2018, in an unusual way- through art.  Scott was purchasing work by local artist Tom Liguori, who instead of payment asks clients to donate to one of several charities, including Mercy Ships. 
Judi began her presentation by showing a 60 Minutes piece that aired several years ago.  In many countries in Africa, access to basic healthcare is extremely limited and access to surgical care is even more rare. Mercy Ships bring surgical care to countries identified by the World Health as being most in need. Don Stevens founded Mercy Ships in 1978 by Don Stevens and in its 40 year service has helped more than 80,000 individuals and their families by bringing 21st century medical care to those most in need.    
The Africa Mercy is a 500 ft converted rail ferry ship that carries a crew of 450, including 15 doctors. The ship has 78 beds and 6 operating rooms.  All crew provide their services for free, and each crew member must fund their own living expenses. Many of the crew are sponsored by churches and other organizations in their home communities. 
Mercy Ships provide only surgical treatment and specialize in maxillofacial surgeries, particularly those involving repair of cleft palates and removal of disfiguring benign facial tumors.  They also perform cataract surgeries that have helped dozens of patients regain their sight after decades of blindness. 
Mercy Ships is a faith-based organization that receives no government funding and thus their $55 million annual budget is supported solely on private donations and corporate partnerships. They are currently engaged in a capital campaign to raise $160 million to build a new ship that will be designed to meet surgical specifications. Judi invited us to learn more about Mercy Ships and keep abreast of its activities by signing up to receive their newsletters.