Mercy Ships Arrives in Madagascar to President's Welcome

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The president and his wife greeted the Mercy Ships volunteers who will provide more than 1,700 surgeries, 8,000 dental procedures and health education during eight months at the world's fourth largest island nation.

President of Madagascar, Hery Martial Rakotoarimanana Rajaonarimampianina and his wife, Lalao Rajaonarimampianina, wave to crew of the Africa Mercy at the Arrival Ceremony.

The President of Madagascar and his wife wave at crew as the Mercy Ship docks in Madagascar.

More than the medical care that you are offering, you are bringing life to the Malagasy.

Amidst celebrations, His Excellency President Hery Rajaonarimampianina and his wife, Voahangy Rajaonarimampianina, along with Prime Minister Roger Kolo and his wife, Zakia Katoun, personally welcomed the world’s largest civilian hospital ship into port when Mercy Ships docked Saturday in the Port of Toamasina (Tamatave).

During the Africa Mercy’s eight-month stay in the Republic of Madagascar, Mercy Ships plans to provide approximately 1,700 surgeries for adult and child patients onboard, to treat approximately 8,000 at a land-based dental clinic renovated for that purpose, and to provide holistic healthcare education to Malagasy healthcare professionals and community leaders.

“More than the medical care that you are offering, you are bringing life to the Malagasy,” President Rajaonarimampianina shared enthusiastically. “It is the goal of the president to transform the nation – a nation that has suffered 50 years of poverty. It is our goal in the government to bring hope again to our nation, and it is the same mission that Mercy Ships has.”

“We want to take this moment to express all our thanks for all those that have been participating in the realization of this project today,” said Prime Minister Kolo. “We are honored and privileged to have you here in our country and in Tamatave, being able to work with us and serve.”

The international volunteer crew of the Mercy Ship were treated to national music and dances as part of the festivities. A brief tour of the ship was provided for the heads of state and dignitaries. Statements of thanksgiving were made by Rajaonarimampianina, Kolo and Roland Decorvet, Managing Director of the Africa Mercy, along with a presentation of “Dihy Gasy,” a traditional dance that demonstrates the everyday life and mindset of a Malagasy native.

“Thank you to the Prime Minister and to his government for their incomparable support in preparing our arrival with the different concerned entities,” said Decorvet. “All of these operations and care are free for everyone. Indeed, like God’s grace, there is no need to pay. It is free,” concluded Decorvet.

The arrival of the Africa Mercy coincided with Madagascar’s “Year of the Volunteer” celebration. The dock festivities and celebrations were a precursor to a much larger event that took place at Hotel de Ville, where volunteers throughout Madagascar, including newly arrived Mercy Ships crew members, were recognized.

The Africa Mercy brings with her a crew of over 400 professional volunteers from more than 40 nations. They will not only provide medical services to Madagascar’s population of 22 million but will also provide mentoring and training to Malagasy healthcare professionals.

A patient selection center will open in Toamasina on Monday, November 3, and will screen patients throughout the month. All six surgical specialties (maxillofacial, plastic reconstructive, pediatric orthopedic, women’s health, general and ophthalmic) will be screened at the Toamasina site. Additional screenings will be offered in Antananarivo, as well as the highland and coastal regions of Toliara and Mahajanga in January and February.

The last time a Mercy Ship docked in Madagascar was in 1996.

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About Mercy Ships: Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services, capacity building and sustainable development to those without access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1 billion, treating more than 2.5 million direct beneficiaries. Each year Mercy Ships has more than 1,600 volunteers from more than 40 nations. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. For more information click on http://www.mercyships.org

For More Information Contact:

For USA: Mercy Ships Media Liaison
Tel: (903) 939 7000
Email: us.media(at)mercyships(dot)org
http://www.mercyships.org

For Int’l: Diane Rickard
International Media Manager
Mercy Ships
rickardd(at)mercyships(dot)org

Hi-res photos and general Mercy Ships B-Roll video footage are available upon request.

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Pauline Rick
Mercy Ships
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