We arrived back on the ship on 3rd July after a crazy few weeks of packing up our lives in the UK. In some ways it feels as if we never left and in others it’s a whole new experience, with new crew and a new country.
We spent a few weeks in Durban in shipyard then had a very rough sail to Cape Town which thankfully only lasted 3 days. Our time in South Africa was a combination of finishing up shipyard projects, preparing for the field service in Benin, settling back into ship life, getting to know new crew, Stuart meeting and getting to know his new colleagues, and enjoying the sights and beauty of Cape Town and Durban.
We arrived in Benin just over 2 weeks ago after a (thankfully much smoother) 10 day sail from Cape Town, and it’s been all go since. Stuart’s team have been working flat out to get all the different departments set up with laptops, phones, etc., trying to get the ship set up with a good internet connection, and loads of other techy tasks. Hopefully once the field service has begun in earnest the pace will slow a little. James has started nursery for 2.5 hrs 3 mornings a week which gives me a break and means I get to hang out with Joseph, who has been busy cutting 2 teeth!
The crew have been busy screening patients these last 2 weeks to assess whether these potential patients have conditions we can treat. It’s been a full on time for them as there have been days when over a thousand people have come to be reviewed. The ship was originally due to have come in 2014 but due to the Ebola outbreak was delayed so these beautiful people have waited a long time for the ship to arrive!
We have spent a little time in the city of Cotonou where we’re docked but haven’t had much of a chance to explore yet as Stuart has been busy. So far it feels good to be back on familiar West African turf with crazy traffic, overwhelming noise and smells, beautiful friendly people and the ever present sticky humidity. We hope to see a lot more of this country as the months progress. I (Frances) passed my Mercy Ships driving test the other day which was exciting! My first time driving a Land Rover in West Africa. It was an interesting experience in which I had to basically forget everything I was taught as a driver in the UK!
We’d love to hear from you all back home and hear how you’re doing. Please drop us a line if you have time. We really appreciate all of your support. If it wasn’t for you we wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing.
We look forward to sharing news of the wonderful healing that will be happening once our patients start arriving in just over a week!
Much love from The Clears.