Africa Mercy Volunteer - Packing up to sail


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June 8th 2012
Published: June 8th 2012
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There have been many good-byes this week. There was a celebration of thanks for the 200 plus day workers who have worked with Mercy Ships in Togo. Men came dressed in suits or African dress, and the women were all in beautiful African dresses and head coverings. Of course this included an African meal of rice, beans, plantains, and other specialty dished that I cannot name, singing and dancing. This was not a boring event. I love hearing them sing. It was followed by ice cream which seems the dessert of choice on ship for celebrations. It is vanilla and more like an ice milk. These men and women day workers are local people who translate, work as stewards, go on some of the non-medical ministries (about 10 of them), drive, do repairs, etc. A few have become crew over the years and will sail with us.

There are six day workers in the dining room who work with us Monday through Friday. Their hours are different from mine because they have jobs to do between meal times, usually a different major clean each day. One told me he used to be a baker in Nigeria. Nigeria is an English speaking country. It also has many other local languages like all African countries. He moved to Togo because it was safer and he likes it. He was working with a Christian ministry before applying to Mercy Ships. The galley had enough bakers so he ended up in the dining room.

The clinic tents have been washed and packed in a container. The remaining nurses are stripping floors, cleaning and packing up the wards. Everything has to be tied down during the sail. Tanker trucks of fuel have been coming to fuel up the ship. The ship store is emptying out slowly. We won’t be able to buy bottled water or soda during the sail. But people have been warned and can stock up. Most of the items on the two-for-one sale were for candy and small sized T-shirts.

We have been having “at sea” muster drills. We go to deck seven to our assigned stations, put on our life jackets and prepare to board the life boats which are lowered only to deck level since we are still at dock side. We were told to pack a small bag of warm clothing, food, water, etc. in prep for the sail. I guess that would work if the call to stations came when you were in your cabin. And we are not allowed to wear flip flops during the sail. I see at least 50% of the crew wearing flip flops to meals.

My berth mate is leaving today. There will only be three of us in our six person cabin when we sail. (Some other cabins are 8 and 10 berths.) We can each have a bottom bunk! This is a major luxury on board. The limited space on the top bunk makes it impossible to sit. The ladder is made for shoes and thus very uncomfortable for climbing with bare feet. It is awkward to make your bed especially if the bottom bunk person is sleeping.

We get regular cabin inspections. If we don’t pass because there are too many infractions (dirty shower certain, dishes, stuff in the walkway, etc.), we are allowed a certain amount to time to comply before another inspection. There will be other kinds of inspections before the sail. One will be to make certain items are stored so things won’t be flying about. That means stuff on the shelf, like shampoo, books, and misc. items need to be in a traveling bag, but since I won’t have berth mate, I can use the other small closet to place my bag. They will also look for contraband, (I don’t know what that includes. It can’t be elephant tusks. The only animals I have seen are horses, chickens, dogs, and goats.). And they will look for stow-a-ways.

We should sail within the next two weeks. The day is not exact. When everything is ready and the weather conditions are right, we will leave.

I have a three day week end off. I will go to the seamen’s center tomorrow if it is not raining and swim.

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Tot: 0.063s; Tpl: 0.016s; cc: 7; qc: 51; dbt: 0.0151s; 1; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb