Ja­nine oils wheels of African mercy mis­sion

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

Mata­mata woman Ja­nine Boyes has been us­ing her ad­min­is­tra­tion skills to bring change to some of Africa’s poor­est peo­ple since 2010. She volun- teers as a hu­man re­sources fa­cil­i­ta­tor on the Africa Mercy, a char­ity hospi­tal ship op­er­ated in West Africa by Mercy Ships.

On Fe­bru­ary 1 Togo’s poor from far and wide came, bring­ing their friends and fam­ily suf­fer­ing from med­i­cal con­di­tions un­treat­able in most African coun­tries. The lo­cal sta­dium had been set up as a huge tem­po­rary clinic.

A to­tal of 3500 peo­ple with prob­lems rang­ing from cataracts, club feet and tu­mours to ail­ments such as stom­achaches and headaches lined up to be screened.

The Mercy Ship’s doc­tors se­lected 1600 of the worst cases that the ship’s sur­geons could op­er­ate on.

Ms Boyes said screen­ing day was her high­light of each year’s field ser­vice.

‘‘ The day started with break­fast on the ship at 3.30am. All crew not on watch duty grabbed water, sun­screen, mozzie repellent – we’re in malaria coun­try – sup­plies for the day. We headed off in sev­eral con­voys in the ship’s Land Rovers to the venue,’’ she said.

‘‘ Within min­utes of ar­rival and setup the first of many, many hun­dreds of peo­ple ar­rived at the reg­is­tra­tion ta­bles, hav­ing had ex­am­i­na­tions at two pre-screen­ing posts along the way.

‘‘ Ev­ery po­ten­tial pa­tient had to be prop­erly reg­is­tered be­fore they could move on through the rest of the med­i­cal his­tory-tak­ing and ex­am­i­na­tion process – each hop­ing they would re­ceive an ap­point­ment card for fur­ther screen­ing on board, and des­per­ate for the pos­si­bil­ity of life- chang­ing treat­ment.

‘‘Be­cause my French is very limited I had a lo­cal man named Yaovi trans­lat­ing for me. I did most of the form-fill­ing and he did most of the talk­ing. It was a very long day.’’

Ms Boyes said some of her ex­pe­ri­ences were un­for­get­table.

‘‘One woman looked both very young and very old at the same time but was only in her twen­ties,’’ Ms Boyes said.

‘‘ It looked like she had en­dured a life­time of hurt in just a few short years and was very lonely and alone.

‘‘She was a can­di­date for a birth in­jury re­pair surgery.

‘‘Many women in this part of the world en­dure very pro­longed child­birth some­times re­sult­ing in the loss of their baby, in­con­ti­nence, and then be­ing os­tracised by their hus­band, fam­ily and vil­lage for the pre­vi­ous two events.’’

Staff on board the Africa Mercy of­ten see peo­ple with cleft lip or cleft palate.

With­out re­sources to treat the con­di­tion soon af­ter birth, peo­ple live their whole lives putting up with the abuse and tor­ment that goes along with the fa­cial ab­nor­mal­ity.

‘‘ I re­mem­ber one baby in par­tic­u­lar. She was about eight months old and a tiny wee thing with huge brown eyes and a cleft lip,’’ Ms Boyes said.

‘‘She was sit­ting in her mother’s lap while her fa­ther stood and gave us her in­for­ma­tion for reg­is­tra­tion.

‘‘ She spent most of her time look­ing de­vot­edly up at her daddy and hang­ing on his ev­ery word.

‘‘ We had to col­lect from him his baby girl’s name – they called their pre­cious baby girl with the cleft lip, Beauty!’’

For­ever changed by her ex­pe­ri­ences serv­ing Africa’s poor, Ms Boyes said it was hard to put into words what she saw but she was priv­i­leged to be a part of it.

Ser­vant heart: Ja­nine Boyes and trans­la­tor Yaovi work to­gether to gather the pa­tient’s in­for­ma­tion at the screen­ing reg­is­tra­tion desk.

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