Thursday, December 29, 2011

Palliative Care

The Mercy Ships Palliative Care Program was initiated after crew member Ann Giles identified a need to offer continuing care to people with inoperable tumors. Now in its tenth year, the program sends nurses into the community to offer pain relief, wound care, counseling and support to these patients.

Palliative care and cancer care are still in their infancy in Sierra Leone, and there is very little treatment available at local hospitals. “Often doctors here don’t tell people the truth because there isn’t much they can do to help them anyway,” says Palliative Care Team Leader Harriet Molyneux. The result is that many of the patients with whom the team works have never heard of cancer before. “We have to tell them, ‘This is what cancer is; this is what we can do for you,’” says Harriet.

It is never easy to tell people that they are going to die, but cultural differences between the palliative care nurses and their patients create additional challenges. “In this culture, it is very hard to break bad news to people,” says Harriet. “The culture is very much to say, ‘God is great’ and encourage each other and build each other up. So it’s difficult to say straight out, ‘I’m afraid you’re dying.’ I’ve never said it directly. You couldn’t do that.”

“They are my family,” says Adama – shown with the Palliative Care team, L to R: Camilla Börjesson, Harriet Molyneux, Adama Kargbo, Dee Ameyaw.

Esther Komba, a palliative care day-worker who has been a practicing nurse in Sierra Leone for over 15 years, has been an invaluable cultural interpreter for the team. “She struggled at first,” says Harriet. “She went home crying every day the first few weeks, because it’s completely going against her culture, but she’s a very strong woman, and she’s stuck with it – she does a fantastic job.”

In 2011, the Palliative Care Team was given a budget to develop income-generating projects for their patients. These projects help patients to support themselves and to be assured that their families will be secure after they die. The team works with patients to identify a skill or trade that they have developed in the past and then helps them to get the materials and training they need to start their business.

Adama Kargbo ran a cooked food business for 20 years before she developed a malignant facial tumor and became too sick to work. She came to Mercy Ships hoping to be healed, but unfortunately her tumor was inoperable. “When we first started with her, she was very depressed, very low,” says Harriet. “She had spent all of her savings on treatments that hadn’t worked, and she was unable to feed her family.”

Adama attends church regularly, and her faith and the support she has received from the Palliative Care Team have helped her to accept her condition. Her cancer is slow-growing, so after visiting her several times, the team asked whether she felt well enough to work. When she expressed a desire to restart her business, the team helped her to get everything that she needed to set up a food stall in the market. “From then, I’ve never slept hungry again,” says Adama.

Now Adama’s business, which she runs with the help of two of her daughters, is thriving. She has added benches inside her stall, and she has also started a second cooked food business that operates five days a week. Having managed to save a bit of money, she plans to start selling dried goods soon. The earnings from her businesses support ten family members and allow her to pay her grandson’s school fees so that he can continue his education.

“It’s dramatically improved her quality of life,” says Harriet. “She’s able to buy food for her family, and it has also improved her emotional state. She’s brighter, she has a lot more purpose. We’ve noticed a big difference in her.”

When the members of the Palliative Care Team arrive for their weekly visits, Adama always has a hot meal ready for them. “I prepare food for them to show them love because they have showed me love,” she says. “They are my family.”

November 2011

Written by Catherine Cooper
Edited by Nancy Predaina
Photos by Catherine Cooper

Ravel's Bolero Flash Mob

As one of the first professional symphony orchestras ever Copenhagen Phil (Sjællands Symfoniorkester) did a flash mob at Copenhagen Central Station on May 2nd 2011 playing Ravel's Bolero. Conductor is Jesper Nordin.

If you cannot see the video below, click HERE! Well worth the watch!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Exploring the Western Caribbean by ship...

7 days onboard the MS Mariner of the Seas. The ship is one of five Voyager-class cruise ships from Royal Caribbean International; it is one of the largest in its fleet and among the largest passenger ships in the world. It was constructed at Aker Finnyards in Turku, Finland and had her maiden voyage in 2003. Currently the ship sails cruises from the port of Galveston, Texas  to the Western Caribbean.

Galveston is a coastal city located on Galveston Island in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a total population of 47,743 within an area of 208 square miles (540 km2). Located within the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area, the city is the seat and second-largest city of Galveston County in population.

During the 19th century, Galveston became a major U.S. commercial center and one of the largest ports in the United States. Galveston is known for the hurricane that devastated the city in 1900. The natural disaster that followed still counts as the deadliest in American history with over 6,000 deaths.

The most perfect bed in the world. I slept like a baby!

The Port of Galveston was established by a proclamation issued by the Congress of Mexico on October 17, 1825, while the land known today as Texas  was still part of Mexico. The Port of Galveston is the oldest port in the Gulf of Mexico west of New Orleans. The Carnival Magic, Carnival Cruise Lines flagship is docked in front of us as we await departure.

Deck 4, a wrap around promenade deck. I spent many a happy hour reading here in perfect quiet and peace.

The Solarium, an adults only pool and hot tubs onboard the Mariner of the Seas. Heaven.

Cozumel (Mayan: Island of the Swallows) is an island in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, opposite Playa del Carmen, and close to the Yucatan Channel. Cozumel is one of the ten municipalities (municipios) of the state of Quintana Roo. Cozumel is a tourist destination for its balnearios, scuba diving, and snorkeling. The main town on the island is San Miguel de Cozumel.

The Royal Promenade onboard the Mariner of the Seas. A long 'street' complete with shops and over spilling European style cafes and bars. Good for people watching and live music and parades.

Arriving At Georgetown in the Cayman Islands we had to anchor in the bay and be tendered to shore.

The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory located in the western Caribbean Sea. The territory comprises the three islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, located south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica. The Cayman Islands are considered to be part of the geographic Western Caribbean Zone as well as the Greater Antilles.

We even came under attack from a pirate ship. Luckily, I didn't see any Somalians! Look carefully, and you will see the puff of white smoke as the canon went off. I nearly dropped my camera in the ocean. It was a big and very loud BOOOM!

The Mariner of the Seas in more dodgy pirate company.

Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, 234 kilometers (145 mi) in length, up to 80 kilometers (50 mi) in width and 10,990 square kilometers (4,243 sq mi) in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about 145 kilometers (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometers (119 mi) west of Hispaniola, the island harboring the nation-states of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Its indigenous Arawakan-speaking Taíno inhabitants named the island Xaymaca, meaning the "Land of Wood and Water", or the "Land of Springs".

Once a Spanish possession known as Santiago, in 1655 it became an English, and later a British, colony, known as "Jamaica". It achieved full independence in 1962. With 2.8 million people, it is the third most populous anglophone country in the Americas, after the United States and Canada. It remains a Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. Kingston is the country's largest city and the capital.

Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee is a classification of coffee grown in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. The best lots of Blue Mountain coffee are noted for their mild flavor and lack of bitterness. Over the last several decades, this coffee has developed a reputation that has made it one of the most expensive and sought-after coffees in the world; over 80% of all Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is exported to Japan. In addition to its use for brewed coffee, the beans are the flavor base of Tia Maria coffee liqueur.

Meeting up with a dear friend of mine, Donna Shippie, who is the Asst Director for YWAM Montego Bay.

Distance sailed: 2,462 nautical miles = 2,533 miles = 4,559 kilometers in 7 days
Deepest part of the gulf sailed over: 11,410 feet = 3,477 meters
Average temperature: 72 F = 22 C
Average speed: 21.9 knots = 25.20 miles per hour = 40.55 kilometer per hour

It surely was a mix of all kinds of people... Meet Edie and Bill who definitely had caught Christmas Spirit by it's red nose!
Helpfully, the day gets noted in the elevators. I thought it a bit cheesy, but by Wednesday I had to look in the elevator to see which day it was!

My cabin attended went out of his way to confuse me. I am still not sure if this was a pig or a dog!

Beautiful and well appointed conference center. Very happy about this and well suited for the upcoming Alumni cruise!

Small cinema/screening room located right next to the conference center on deck 2
No matter what time of the day, I loved the quiet and fresh air on deck 4. I reminded me so much of countless hours spent on the promenade deck on the Anastasis.

Question and Answer time with the captain and cruise director in the theater.

One of the murals in the Royal Promenade, it looked more and more like the kid was holding up the Anastasis. I took it as a good sign!

The jogging/walking track on the ship.

The Royalpalooza, the final parade!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

If Mary and Joseph Used Facebook.

Ever wondered how the Nativity story would have played out if Joseph and Mary used Facebook?

if you cannot see the video below, click HERE!

Thursday, December 8, 2011


After a husband taught his wife how to handle a gun, he told her not to play with it. This is his revenge on her after she disobeyed his warnings...

If you cannot see the video, click HERE!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Greatful Heart

The Africa Mercy docked in the port of Freetown, Sierra Leone (as seen from the port towers). I am very grateful for every opportunity that we had to impact and help someone in this great nation.