the world is run by volunteers and that may well be the opinion
of Snitterfield WI members after their January meeting. Jan
Roberts, daughter of residents Jean and Tim Dronsfield, and
a volunteer aboard the Caribbean Mercy, brought fascinating
photographs and insightful anecdotes to tell us of the work
of the Mercy Ships of West Africa.
an American, John Stephens, and his wife, with the desire to
take Hope and Healing to the poorest and most vulnerable
of the worlds population, bought a retired
ocean liner, the Anastasis. They sailed down the coast of West
Africa to take medical aid to the villages and found great need.
they visited are among the poorest in the world, with 100,000
people to one doctor and incredibly low standards of health,
hygiene, sanitation and pure water. To address this, teams are
sent out from the Mercy Ships to teach methods for digging wells,
resulting in better health, particularly among the orphans whose
parents have succumbed to HIV Aids. Orphanages have been built
and helped by volunteers on the ships.
sent out to the villages to screen patients for life-changing
surgery and given appointments. Thousands of patients receive
free operations for eye diseases, dental work, plastic surgery
and orthopaedic corrective surgery. Facilities are provided
for each child to have an adult with them on board.
based in Texas, is complicated but there is always a waiting-list
of volunteers anxious to help; all sponsored, often by churches
or their local communities. There is no discrimination or prejudice.
The ships are fitted out to the highest standards, the recent
Africa Mercy, with 450 volunteers, having five operating theatres,
x-ray facility, pathology laboratory, an academy where children
of volunteers can go to school, a library and shops; plus a
full crew of cooks, cleaners and Gurkha guards a necessary
precaution. Computers enable volunteers to remain in touch with
their families at home.
activities: welcoming the members and their guests, Angela announced
a number of future events: a marmalade making day hosted by
Ann, a poetry evening organised by Judith, a skittles evening
in March and proposed village walks. Merrill brought us up to
date on the need for donations to the Stratford food bank, with
a useful venue for our gifts at the village shop. Carole reminded
us of the ongoing appeal for volunteers at the Shakespeare Hospice.
Altogether, a busy and interesting year to which we look forward.