The sound of the metal shutters going down at Starbucks muffled most of the noise and activity going on in mid-ships. My senses seemed to be on high alert as I looked around the busiest place on the M/V Africa Mercy on Wednesday afternoon. My head and heart felt like they were on overload- unsure if it was just from donating blood or the emotions that come with leaving such a place. I was early for my performance evaluation with my supervisor so I took a moment to soak up what was happening all around me. How was I going to leave this wonderful place?
The constant hum of the generator seemed to be in tune with the worship music still playing from Starbucks. I noticed the dental team huddled around a few tables as they laughed and clinked their coffee mugs together. Most likely a celebration of getting to the café before it closed since they are off ship all day at the dental clinic. A young guy who works in housekeeping walks by with cleaning supplies in hand and a smile on his face. Kids run down the stairs with backpacks in tow, school must have just finished. A carpenter climbs the stairs on the opposite side with a tape measure ready to start a new project. The ophthalmic coordinator sits with her team at one of the tables. At another table, a photographer is teaching one of teens how to use an advanced camera. A mom walks deck 6 with a baby in her arms, the little one greeting everyone they pass by. My supervisor walks into the cafe, with a slight frown and takes a seat next to me and ask "So when are you coming back?" We both laugh and it echos thru mid-ships.
I thought about the patients I took care of in the OR that day who received sight after cataracts were removed. The patients I hear singing and marching down the hallway because they are dry after leaking. The smiles I see on our patients who did not have them before because of a tumor or cleft lip. They are receiving healing because of everyone I saw in mid-ships that day and those who are working in their offices, in the galley, in the school, and in the engine room. The people of Cameroon are not only being healed, but are given hope every day because of the crew of the M/V Africa Mercy.