Real talk: nursing on the Africa Mercy is not intensive and can make 8 hours seem like a very long shift. But this leaves lots of time for snuggles, laughs, playtime... and the endless search for constructive entertainment for cooped up kids.
FAITH. She is a diva of a 3 year old. Loves attention and responds accordingly to the camera! I love her adorable babble when she talks and I wish so badly I knew what she was saying. Even her shrieks of delight make me smile, despite the high pitch. She likes to cuddle and will use any excuse to be walked up and down the hallways (she gets very heavy very fast). Her sister Godwin (not pictured) stayed with us for a bit and is every bit as adorable as Faith.
MIRACLE. I've talked about this cheeky monkey before. When he's in a good mood, he never fails to bring smiles to EVERYONE, even the mom's of other patients ( I feel like this is significant as they don't seem highly amused by all the children running around). He walks, like a t-rex with his hands wrapped up, into B ward and into shouts of MEER-ROCK!!!!! I'm instantly laughing and hoping he wants to be held.
On the day that he was discharged, quite a crowd had formed in the hallway to say goodbye. His mom saw me and waved me forward for a photo. I leaned down to pick him up and he wrapped his little nubs around my neck and squeezed. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world, Miracle. Thank you. You are already so missed.
VALENTIN. He was my very first patient on the ship and he has come SO FAR. I've gotten to see so much more of his personality since that awful first day. He has a squeaky little voice and likes to giggle at things I have no idea. Even when he's not feeling well, I tickle his hand and he tickles mine back.
RACHIDI. He's a punk and he knows how to push my buttons. Teenagers are not supposed to to sit in bed all day! Nevertheless, we've had a good time together. But seriously, it's time to go home!
MEMUNA. She is the sweetest 17 year old, here on board for her second surgery to remove a facial neurofibroma that has grown back. She is featured on the film "The Surgery Ship" from when the ship was docked in Guinea, 4 years ago. She has lost use of her left eye already and it's been discovered that she will be losing sight in her right eye as well. She is so quiet. I wish I could talk to her to fill silence. But she holds my hand, lets me guide her and that's all the communication that is needed.
Her sister (above far right in pink) and her nephew (baby facing camera in the wagon) accompanied her to Benin for her surgery. They have all been a joy to care for.
The hospital has been open long enough now that we are starting to send patients home! So very bittersweet. So many are a complete joy to spend time with and I'm so sad to see them go but also excited to see what cuties we will get next!