Truth in advertising. Faith (as normally defined to mean religion) . I have none.
But the people on the Mercy Ships, specifically the Africa Mercy now here in Cotonou, do, and they’re living it in the most real way I can imagine. The Africa Mercy is a hospital ship which has been here since the summer, and will be leaving some time before Christmas. In that time, they have fanned out over the country providing health care, done thousands of surgeries in their on-board operating rooms, all for free. In fact, almost all of the people on the Mercy are not only volunteers, they pay expenses to serve on the ship. And many have been doing it for year after year. It’s an international group, about one-third Americans, who occasionally stop by the consular section, which is how I’ve met several of them. I’m not one for contributing the “faith based” institutions, but I will contribute to them, or at least help sponsor a volunteer. After leaving here, they’re set for a refit, then scheduled to head for the next country to the west, Togo.
It’s a very nice ship (for a converted passenger ferry) with a nice dining room (and I hear a very good chef), a school for the kids, library and public spaces. And unexpectedly in the public spaces there is…
Yes, a Starbucks. The first (maybe the only) in Africa. It seems one of the owners of Starbucks is a big supporter, and sponsors the onboard coffee shop.
It may also be the cheapest Starbucks in the world, since they only pay for shipping the supplies.
Thanks to the crew and doctors who invited me for the tour, and good luck in the future.