Mercy Ships: Once-Shunned Students Return to School

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On World Humanitarian Day, Mercy Ships celebrates students in Africa who can return to school because they received surgeries to remove tumors, straighten crooked feet, repair cleft lips or correct other maladies that once made them outcasts.

Sandrins plays Duck, Duck, Goose with Mercy Ships staff and her friends.

For Sandrins who had a club foot, the opportunity to return to school and to run and play like other children, is life-changing.

Now she can play with her friends. She is going to school. She is accepted.

On this World Humanitarian Day, Mercy Ships celebrates helping students go back to school. The back-to-school season often means new clothes, new shoes, and backpacks full of supplies. But, for children in Africa, just being able to attend school is often a dream. That opportunity is frequently denied because they have physical abnormalities, such as cleft lips, large facial tumors, bowed legs, “knocked knees,” etc. Mercy Ships provides surgeries to correct these conditions, thus allowing children to return to school.    

Mercy Ships provided free surgeries for 846 children in Madagascar. One of those children was a young girl named Sandrins, who could not attend school due to a club foot. Her mother Lydia had carried her over three miles each way to attend classes. But by the time Sandrins was eight years old, she was too heavy for her mother to carry. The little girl’s twisted right foot was too painful for her to walk to school, so she was forced to drop out. Each day she watched sadly as her twin sister went to school without her.

“I would like to see her go to school. I want to give her the chance to run with the other children. To see her walking like every child! That's my motivation!” Lydia said.

One day she heard a radio announcement that Mercy Ships was providing free surgeries in Madagascar. Daring to hope, she took Sandrins to a medical screening. Two surgeries and months of physical therapy later, her daughter’s foot was restored.

After Sandrins’ recovery, Lydia remarked, “Now she can play with her friends. She is going to school. She is accepted.” Now Sandrins will receive a good education that will help her build a future, and she is healthy enough to play with other children. Parents all over the world can identify with Lydia’s delight in her daughter’s brighter future.

During two field services from 2014 to 2016, the 400 volunteer crew members on the Mercy Ships state-of-the-art floating hospital provided 2,951 free life-changing surgeries, 15,974 dental encounters, and taught healthcare courses to 1,882 healthcare professionals including surgeons, anesthesia providers, doctors and nurses. These courses improved surgical and healthcare outcomes in Madagascar’s hospitals – positive outcomes that have continued after the departure of the Mercy Ship.

Mercy Ships will spend the next ten months in Cotonou, Benin, where the volunteer crew anticipate providing over 1,700 life-changing surgeries and helping more school-aged children return to classes.

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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 $1.2 billion, treating more than 2.54 million direct beneficiaries. Each year Mercy Ships has more than 1,600 volunteers from 45 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: Pauline Rick
US Public Relations Coordinator
Mercy Ships
Office Tel: (903) 939-7000
Mob: (972) 922-5442
Email: us.media(at)mercyships.org

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

http://www.mercyships.org

ABOUT WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY:

"World Humanitarian Day is an annual reminder of the need to act to alleviate the suffering. It is also an occasion to honour the humanitarian workers and volunteers toiling on the frontlines of crises. I pay tribute to these dedicated women and men who brave danger to help others at far greater risk." — UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon
http://www.un.org/en/events/humanitarianday/index.shtml

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

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Pauline Rick
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