Africa Mercy welcomed to Madagascar in red carpet style

The drums could be heard throughout the port city of Toamasina. Music of celebration and joy set the tone for a day of festivities as the Africa Mercy arrived in the Republic of Madagascar, where it will dock for the next eight months on a mission of hope and healing in Toamasina.

The world’s largest non-governmental hospital ship brings with her a crew of over 400 professionals along with state-of-the-art hospital equipment to offer free specialised surgeries to the people of Madagascar. It is Mercy Ships first visit to the island nation of 22 million since 1996, when Mercy Ships first vessel, the Anastasis, came for a three-month mission from June through August.

During the Africa Mercy’s eight-month stay in the Republic of Madagascar, Mercy Ships plans to provide approximately 1,700 surgeries for adult and child patients on board, to treat approximately 8,000 at a land-based dental clinic renovated for that purpose, and to provide health care education to Malagasy health care professionals and community leaders.

The crew was welcomed in true Malagasy style beginning with an arrival ceremony hosted by the President, His Excellency Hery Rajaonarimampianina and Prime Minister Roger Kolo.

Guests in attendance, as well as the Africa Mercy crew, who watched the festivities unfold from Deck 7, were entertained by the performance of “Dihy Gasy”, a Malagasy dance that depicts the everyday life and mind-set of the Malagasy people. In addition to the festivities on the dock, there were also celebrations aboard the ship as Rajaonarimampianina, Kolo and other dignitaries were invited for a brief tour of the heart and soul of the Africa Mercy, the hospital on deck 

“We want to take this moment to express all our thanks for all those that have been participating in the realisation of this project today,” said Kolo. “We are honoured and privileged to have you here in our country and in Tamatave, being able to work with us and serve.”

“More than the medical care that you are offering, you are bringing life to the Malagasy,” Rajaonarimampianina said enthusiastically. “It is the goal of the president to transform the nation – a nation that has suffered 50 years of poverty. It is our goal in the government to bring hope again to our nation and it is the same mission that Mercy Ships has.