It’s hard to believe that we’re nearing the end of our time in Benin, with this being our last week of surgeries. It seems to have flown, and Stuart and I are very sad to be leaving this beautiful country and its friendly, hard working people.
Joseph has joined James in the nursery 3 mornings a week which means I (Frances) have started working in our Outpatients department. I work with a wonderful team of nurses and local day crew, and we perform ongoing post op wound care and assess all the patients for discharge. It’s wonderful to be interacting with patients again and seeing all the surgical specialties that we provide, not just maxillo facial, which was my previous specialty. I love working with our wonderful day crew, who we couldn’t work without. They do an amazing job of translating for us (my French is terrible!) and assisting in all aspects of the job.
The Day Crew member who works with Stuart in the IT department has just been accepted as a permanent crew member which is great news! Taking on a number of the day crew as crew members is something we do every field service and helps with having more consistent members of teams in an ever changing crew. We recently hosted Elfried’s family on the ship for an afternoon visit so they could experience what life will be like for him living here. Elfried told me his family were amazed at the facilities on the ship, they weren’t expecting it to be so well equipped and modern.
Nearing the end of our time here in Benin means we’ve been keen to explore and take in all the rich culture this country offers. I had the opportunity to visit the historic town of Ouidah recently, which was both enjoyable and sobering. Unfortunately one of the reasons for visiting is to experience the 4km Route des Esclaves, where slaves, once sold, would make their way to the ocean to board ships bound for the Americas. On the beach there is a memorial called the “point of no return” that depicts slaves in chains, leaving their homeland. Our guide did a great job of explaining what that 4km journey involved and it was incredibly sad to hear of the suffering and torture those men, women and children went through. Over the 200 years of slave trading 13,000,000 were transported, and tens of millions died on route. When I asked our private guide how he felt he wisely answered that we are all responsible. If people weren’t willing to sell, other people wouldn’t be able to buy. What an insightful, gracious response, which pretty much sums up the Beninese people.
Once we leave Benin we’ll have an 11 day sail up to Gran Canaria where the ship will be in dry dock for a few weeks. We’re taking advantage of that time and will visit the UK for a short while, then we’ll be back to the ship where we’ll be looking forward to sailing to the next field service location, Cameroon, where we’ll be for ten months.
We can’t thank all of you enough for your support whether it be through your friendship, prayer or finances and we hope to see some of you in the UK in the summer.