MONROVIA LIBERIA, November 2, 2007 - Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced this week that Mercy Ships has accepted her invitation for the Africa Mercy to return to Liberia again for 2008 following a short dry dock away from the nation at the end of this year. The Mercy Ship expects to leave port at the end of November and return from February through to November 2008. This will be the fourth Mercy Ships visit to Liberia since the charity's previous flagship, Anastasis, first called into the Port of Monrovia in 2005. Since that time, Mercy Ships volunteers have transformed the lives of the Liberian people by providing life-transforming surgeries, state of the art medical care, and community development projects throughout Liberia. In May of 2007, the new flagship of the Mercy Ships Fleet, Africa Mercy, was placed into service in Monrovia and immediately more than doubled the capacity of health care and services that could be provided. Conservative estimates state that the Africa Mercy's volunteers will be able to provide over 7000 medical procedures during a standard 10 month deployment. The invitation to return to Liberia was discussed during meetings in Washington D.C. this past week when President Johnson Sirleaf was honoured at the AFRICARE Conference. Don Stephens, Founder/President of Mercy Ships was in attendance for this conference and enjoyed an audience with Her Excellency prior to her key note address. "Part of Mercy Ships goal in returning again would be to strongly support momentum for Liberia's national health policy and increase capacity for medical care by using the Africa Mercy as a platform for medical education and mentoring in administration/management infrastructure," stated Don Stephens.
"Mercy Ships is committed to increasing the health care capacity of Liberia and our volunteer crew will also deliver selected small scale construction and renovation projects alongside the medical training and surgical services the ship provides," Stephens said. All Mercy Ships services are provided free of charge to the nation, thanks to donors around the world who are passionate in their support of the volunteer professionals onboard the Africa Mercy. This commitment also follows on the heels of a decision by Ann Gloag and the Balcraig Foundation whose generosity contributed to the refit of the Africa Mercy, to also agree to assist in the renovation of the JFK Hospital in Monrovia which has served as the on-land location for the ship's medical and dental screenings. This and several other projects are planned to assist in establishing a long-term medical infrastructure within the nation after the ship concludes its service at the end of 2008. Prior to arriving in Monrovia, the Africa Mercy will make a short courtesy stopover in Sierra Leone for a formal protocol signing for the ship's next port of service in 2009. This signing represents the organizations' ongoing commitment to help the people of West Africa emerge from the difficulties of war and subsequent disease related to the destroyed medical infrastructure in this area of the world. Mercy Ships was originally invited to Liberia in 2004 by Jacques Klein, Special Assistant to United Nations Secretary General, the Liberian Council of Churches and in partnership with Dr Gwenigale of the Liberian Ministry of Health. www.mercyships.org