Keith R. Brinkman serving with Mercy Ships. This is another way for me to communicate with you all what is happening. I hope you enjoy seeing the photos and entries.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

KRB Update #2152 March 20, 2010
Keith R. Brinkman Togo 2010 Field Service

For this year, we are here in Lomé, Togo from February 10th till August 16th. Togo was the first nation we came to in Africa back in 1990 (while I was serving at the International Office in Texas). Here are some of the projects that will be happening as we help to bring hope and healing to the Togolese people.
Mercy Vision (Reducing Blindness in Togo) Project Objectives: To train one cataract surgical fellow from Togo. To provide mentoring for five African and international surgeons in cataract removal and prepare them for service in a developing country. To provide 1,500 specialized surgeries to correct blindness due to cataracts. To provide 100 specialized surgeries to correct blindness due to pterygium. To provide about 30 eviscerations/enucleations for people needing palliative benefit. To evaluate and treat 12,000 patients for basic eye disease in community clinics.
Outlook of Hope (Providing Maxillofacial Surgeries and Surgeon Mentoring)
Project Objectives: To provide 375 specialized surgery for people affected by maxillofacial deformities (tumors, complications of injury, or infections). Of these, 100 will be cleft lip and/or palate procedures. To mentor two international surgeons in advances surgical techniques that are suitable for service in a developing country.
Reconstructing Hope (Providing Reconstructive Surgery and Surgeon Mentoring)
Project Objectives: To provide 85 specialized surgeries for patients affected by plastic reconstructive conditions, including burn scar contractures, chronic ulcers, benign and malignant tumors, combined fingers, and swollen limbs, etc. To mentor 2 international surgeons in plastic reconstructive surgery techniques.
Specialized Surgical Solutions (Providing General Medical Procedures) Project Objectives: To provide 170 specialized surgeries for people affected by general medical conditions such as hernias and goiters.
Hope Reborn: Togo (Fistula Prevalence Reduction and Surgeon Mentorship)
Project Objectives: To mentor 4 surgeons and their nurses in advanced surgical techniques to improve access to proper health care. To provide 60 surgical procedures during the surgeon mentorships. To provide whole-person, psycho/social/spiritual counseling and care to all women affected by VVF or RVF who are screened or receive surgery in this project.
The Orthopaedic Project (Providing Ponseti Training and Orthopaedic Surgeries)
Project Objectives: Train and mentor 10 West African medical personnel in the Ponseti casting technique. During this training, Mercy Ships anticipates performing 50 clubfoot corrections. Provide training to manufacture braces for feet and legs to maintain corrections. Provide 90 specialized procedures for children affected by orthopaedic conditions, including neglected trauma and childhood musculoskeletal conditions. Provide physical therapy on an inpatient and outpatient basis.
Togo Smiles (Providing Dental Care) Project Objectives: To provide dental care for approximately 5,700 people (about 10,300 procedures) affected by tooth decay, infections of the mouth, and small oral lesions. To provide clinical dental hygiene services to 600 people. To provide 550 dentures to patients requiring replacement. To provide access to basic oral health education to 5,700 clients in the dental clinics. To instruct and mentor 30 teachers to teach oral health in their classrooms.
Restoring Hope (Addressing Mental Illness, Epilepsy, and Trauma) Project Objectives: Train and mentor 30 health care workers from different health care facilities in Lomé. Train and mentor 60 medical professionals to improve utilization of basic diagnosis, treatment, and counseling skills. To train and mentor 60 church and community leaders in mental health awareness and counseling. Offer training and mentoring for 50 teachers and 50 social workers and 50 corrections officers and prison fellowship workers, and 50 military leaders in mental health/illness management and basic counseling skills. Offer a five-day children’s camp to improve the self-esteem of 50 children, and to increase church leaders’ ability to work with children.
Food for Life (Increasing Food Security & Providing Agricultural Mentoring) Project Objectives: Train and mentor 9 staff members from 3 different Togolese non-government organizations (NGO) in biblical agriculture concepts and natural (organic) farming methods. NGO trainees establish demonstration gardens: 1 garden per Togolese NGO.
Plus Palliative Care, the Hospitality Center, and the Church Leaders Conference in Lomé – those objectives have not been finalized/confirmed yet for this field service.
Thank you for your prayers, encouragement and support for this field service and throughout the year.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kojo et Kokovi - cleft lip boys

On Saturday, I spent some time with these two boys - Kojo (the smaller one) and with Kokovi up on Deck 7 where they were playing on the ride-on-toys we have there. They both have cleft lip surgeries here on board the ship. On Tuesday, I was helping at the medical screening and the first child I saw was a small girl with black curly hair with both of her parents. She also has a cleft lip and they were so grateful that we were able to schedule her for surgery.

Refino et Mama - Admissions

Here in Lome, Togo we have a couple dockside units/tents set up on the dock and that is where our admissions to the hospital are taking place. This is a photo of a boy Refino along with his mother as he was admitted to the hospital. I visited with him last Saturday - he is learning a little bit of English and I used a little bit of my French.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Pediatric Orthopaedic Screening

Pediatric Orthopaedic Screenings March 7, 2010

For our Togo ’10 Field Service, the hospital staff are trying a different approach to identify potential patients for orthopaedics, plastics (burn contractions), maxilo-facial and general surgerical patients. Instead of the larger mass screenings (usually done only for two days) and in cooperation with the Togolese Ministry of Health, the hospital have planned many smaller screenings here in the Lomé area and also in the central and northern regions of the country. On Monday, February 22nd, I joined the team as we went to the CNAO facility – our focus was for pediatric orthopaedic patients. I worked with Nick from Australia who is our physical therapist; we were at the second pre-screening station. I assisted with patient escort and crowd control as they came to be checked out by Nick. I used my limited French to talk with the child and the parent or caregiver. In addition, some of the parents knew some English as we are close to the Ghanaian border. A mother carried a small girl and when she put her down, I went down on my knees and the girl took a few stumbling steps and just fell into me with arms open wide and gave me a hug – she did the same for the entire team – regretfully she had a condition that we are not able to assist.

During the day, approximately 300 people came to the screening and about 200 made it through the pre-screening (others may have been referred to the eye or dental clinics). For this year in Togo, we are only focusing on pediatric patients for orthopaedics, those under the age of 15. In addition, this year the orthopaedic team will be conducting training and demonstration of the ponseti casting method, intended to care for children with club feet without the need of surgery. You can read more about it at One of our patients was Romeo who was just five days old and has club feet and so he is an excellent candidate for the ponseti casting. Another mother brought her two baby twin girls – Ann and Annie – one has club feet and they have done her casting and she is being cared for in B ward.

Many of the patients we saw on Monday are right now on board the ship. Today, many of them attended the optional Sunday morning service in the wards, the first for this year. Plus some of them were up on Deck 7 this afternoon and I was able to visit them. In addition, I spent time with two boys, Kojo and Kokouvi, who both had cleft lip/palate surgery – they were going back and forth on the small ride-on-toys that are available for them to play on.

I would ask for your prayers for: *continued screenings for potential patients *patients we are caring for now in the hospital and will be caring for this year *all of our healthcare professionals who are providing for them.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Caribbean Mercy Reunion Group Shot 03Mar10

On March 3rd, all those who served on the Caribbean Mercy were invited to Town Square/Cafe on the Africa Mercy for a reunion. We enjoyed times of sharing memories together. In the photos you will see (back row - left-right) - Juan Jacinto, Tim, Udo, Eric, Kathy, Marianne, me, Tom (front row -left to right) Alicia, Josephine, Joycee, Caleb, Jana, Ines, Jan, Megan, Charles, Shelly and Luke. Others on board but not pictured, Dr. Glenn & Kim, Ken Kronester, Ben, David, Tim, Ananda & Lia and their boys, and Joseph & Agnes.

Caribbean Mercy Reunion 03Mar10

Last night, we had a mini reunion for all crew who ever served on the m/v Caribbean Mercy. We had over 20 individuals who are now serving on the Africa Mercy that served previously on the Caribbean Mercy during it's 11 year history. We told stories and experiences from our time and of course enjoyed some good food - thanks to Joycee who brought muffins and Charles who made bagels.

Open Hospital Togo 10

During our Open Hospital night, one of our activities was in the ward - crushing a pill and putting it in the liquid and then feeding the 'patient' (a CPR dummie) through a tube. Little Luke is finding it a bit difficult to get the pile crushed, but he got it.

Open Hospital Togo '10

Before the Africa Mercy hospital opened for the Togolese people, the crew of the ship were invited to visit the hospital, including those areas that are normally off limits, like the operating rooms. There were activities for adults and children - in this photo, Megan Davies is being dressed as a surgeon and does surgery on a stuffed monkey.