Monday, 31 May 2010

Pig abuse

Thanks go to my good friend Eric, for this award-winning photo taken over the weekend whilst he was in neighbouring Benin, demonstrating the term "hog-tied". Click on photo to enlarge. Olly
PS - In Benin a year ago, I saw a pig hog-tied to a roof rack, but the poor fellow had fallen off and was swinging against the side of the car, squealing (not surprisingly), as the car continued to speed through the streets of Cotonou.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Libby's teeth

As you can see, one of Libby's baby teeth is being pushed at a CRAZY angle by the new tooth coming from above, yet it still isn't wobbly. Huh. Not seen that before. Olly

Wave Pool progress

Its been an exciting week: the wooden edges for the Africa Mercy's own wave-pool have arrived and are nearly all fitted; the screen for the railings has also arrived and is nearly all fitted; and the pool was filled with water overnight! Photo below of the pool, facing to port side...

and below of the pool facing starboard side.

I think its fair to say the pool has a major design fault: it lies across the width of the ship instead of along the length of the ship, so the water sloshes massively along its 16 meter length. The waves in the pool are 2 or 3 feet high at each end, and water sloshes out of the pool continuously, so additional drains need to be installed to keep Pool Deck dry. Sloshing is so excessive that at times the pump intakes on the sides are left high and dry, which sucks air into the system (so we still have plenty to work on)...but hopefully we'll be swimming some time this week or next week... Olly

Rainy Saturday

I guess rainy season is here at last. We had rain on Monday, Thursday and today, whilst we were trying to relax at a local hotel pool...

The torrential rain knocked all the flowers off the trees, so Libby, Anna and Jana opened a florists shop, and spent the afternoon giving flowers to everyone at the pool.

A lovely cool day! I don't think I broke into a sweat even once. Olly

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Trans-Togo trek

On Saturday, 7 good friends of ours set off to walk across Togo - all 56 kilometres. The first photo shows Tim, Ben, Jen, Kelly, Estelle (and Murry in black, who provided support in a Land Rover), and Haley and Liz. The second photo mid-trek of Ben, Kelly, Estelle & Haley. The third photo of the sweaty and dusty feet of Ben, Haley and Kelly, who completed the walk. Good job guys. Olly

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Road works

A French construction company called COLAS (do an image search on that!) is rebuilding Togo's beach road, at a cost of millions and millions of Euros, no doubt. It is a massive operation, with a whole concrete plant making drains and curbs (with a tower crane to move the concrete once cast), dozens of monster trucks, road-rollers and tarmac layers, and hundreds of local staff laying miles and miles of rainwater drains that are designed to instantly transfer millions of tonnes of rainwater onto the beach in the height of rainy season. Anna and I had fun taking the photos below.

Coincidentally, that's #993 in the background of my photo, en route to the Sarakawa Hotel as part of the new crew transport service we are offering this year to reduce the strain on ship vehicles and reduce the risk of mugging of crew outside the port. Olly

Friday, 21 May 2010

#077 today

#077 is now a shadow of it's former self, mid-conversion. We've stripped out all the rear seats, middle doors and windows, and Moses and Mathieu are replacing the undercarriage (bushings, drive members etc). Next week, we'll take her to the metalworker to be made into a panel-van before we instal seats and windows. Photo below of Peter and Henry taking out seats...

...and #077 today.


Utter garbage

You know, you can confirm the position of a country on the UN's Human Development Index by the way garbage is collected. In Liberia (at the bottom of the HDI), stinking and maggoty garbage was infrequently removed by hand into open trucks (Liberia didn't have one single working garbage truck when we were there). In Benin (further up the HDI) garbage was emptied (again by hand) from wheelie-bins into a proper garbage truck. And in Togo (even further up the HDI) garbage is carried in big dumpsters by dumpster trucks, and none of it gets touched until it arrives at the land-fill site. Photo of the Ghanaian "Zoom Lion" garbage contractor about to pick up one of our full dumpsters. Yet another fascinating blog entry by Olly.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Trucks-on-the-beach Competition Winner

Congratulations to Anne Barker from Aberystwyth for being the first to answer the Trucks-On-The-Beach Competition. The answer was 15. Keep your eye peeled for more exciting competitions on PeetBlog. Olly

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Pool progress

Here's a sneak peak of some of the wooden edging, being made by local craftsmen, that will line the edge of the pool and protect us from banging our heads against the steel lip that surrounds the pool. And isn't that green matting exceptionally well fitted? Olly

Saving Land Rovers, one at a time

As demand for patient transport vehicles increases, we have begun to convert our oldest Land Rovers into ambulances, with only 3 doors instead of 5. This provides a vehicle with easy access for infirm and blind patients, and puts life back into our oldest vehicles. Below, 1997 model #376 after it was converted. Can you see where the second side door used to be? I can't. Brilliant job by local metal-workers.

Below, #376 in the paint shop, half way from being and ten-seater station wagon to a ten-seater a panel van. I put the sliding windows and bench seats in.

Below, 1997 model #077 (yay for #077!) in a very sorry state, about to begin conversion into another ambulance. At this stage, the vehicle was in such poor condition that we weren't driving it. Conversion will add another 5 years to it's life.

So far we've converted 3 old Land Rovers - #077, #376 and #993, and we bought a 2006 model like this a couple of years ago from an NGO in we now have 4 Land Rover ambulances for patient transport, continually ferrying patients between the ship and the Hospitality Centre or Port gate. We couldn't manage without them. Olly

Sand miners

Lome's only source of sand for building comes from the beach. Every day, hundreds of rusty sand trucks drive past the port, dripping sea-water, heading for building sites across the city and into the countryside. Long shore drift is continually dumping sand on this stretch of beach, and the miners are actually helping prevent the entrance of the port from silting over, apparently. Click on photo to enlarge. How many sand trucks can you see? Photo taken from Deck 8. Olly

Flooded Lome

Here are a couple of cool photos of flooded Lome, taken on Wednesday just after the rainstorm. Olly


Togo seems to have a higher concentration of calcium in its water supply, so our sinks are gradually showing lime scale. Sally read on the Internet that vinegar can dissolve the scale, so our bathroom has vinegar-soaked tissues placed at strategic points. Its like showering in a chip shop. Olly

Burns kid

I was delighted to see the little girl I recently blogged about, with the horrifically burnt face, yesterday on Deck 7. She now has a new nose covering the hole where her old nose used to be, and a new lip too. The right side of her face remains the same though...She was full of beans - she was riding a trike up and down, with fully grown nurses standing on the back of it. Olly

Monday, 17 May 2010

Snow Day

Well, Rain Day actually. Yes, today was the first washed-out work day of 2010, thus rainy season has officially begun in Togo in my opinion. For most of the morning, the people of Togo kept under cover and did not venture out whilst the rain came down, whilst I took a Land Rover out and thoroughly enjoyed the completely deserted streets, deep floods and muddy roads. It stopped raining at lunch time, but the sun didn't come out for the remained of the's now a freezing 24 degrees C in our cabin instead of the usual sweaty 28 (I've got really cold feet though!). Long live rainy season. Olly

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Film festival

Last night was the Africa Mercy's 3rd annual Film Festival. Various crew made 15 short movies to entertain us all, and the winner of the prestigious Valletta Award was a hilarious movie about life on board, including a scene with the Captain's voice on the PA system saying "this is a drill, this is a drill" (a la our regular fire drills), only to zoom in on him holding a nice Bosch electric drill. Noah was on the judging panel. A great evening, including a fantastic dance scene by a load of nurses and teachers (and Tim!) in one of the wards. Photos to follow I hope. Olly

Pool progress

My last blog entry about the pool was on 23rd April. Since then, anchor points for netting have been laid, and non-slip green matting has been laid (by me - awful job - took 3 days and destroyed my knees and gave me enough aches and pains to last a whole week). Wooden edging is currently being made to cover the steel edge, and maybe a hand-rail will be installed in the pool to give the kids something to hang on too. We're still waiting for screening to go around the edges of the pool deck, and a steel house is to be constructed to go around the pump and filter mechanisms on Deck 8...but apart from all that, we're getting nearer and nearer to opening every day. Olly

Friday, 14 May 2010

Top Ten of Olly's favourite types of ship

#10 - Bulk carriers with cement clinker (oh, how I hate them!);
  #9 - Bulk carriers with steel for construction (boring and rusty);
  #8 - Bulk carriers with fertilizer (boring and health risk?);
  #7 - Bulk carriers with grain for bread and beer (boring, but bread and beer are important, right?);
  #6 - Bulk carriers with sugar (boring and make a sticky mess);
  #5 - Ships full of frozen fish (boring and leave packing cartons everywhere);
  #4 - Bulk carriers carrying rice (rice is life!);
  #3 - Container ships (shiny, exciting and professional);
  #2 - Navy ships - especially British & US (moody and mysterious);
And at #1 - Car carriers! Shiny and exciting!
You've no idea how long it took me to compile this top ten. Olly

Half way through

Today is a monumental day. According to my calculations, we are precisely half way through our time in Togo. Olly

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Small world

Good friends of ours, the Potts family in Doncaster, have just emailed to say they have been praying separately for the works of Mercy Ships and the works of the Meskine Hospital in the works of the two ministries have met through a 6 year old girl from Cameroon called Aissa, who arrived at the hospital with a terrible face-eating infection (a noma). The Meskine Hospital undoubtedly saved her life, and she is currently on the Africa Mercy having reconstructive surgery. Praise God! Olly

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Happy International Nurse Day

Angels, aren't they? Olly


Man alive, its hot, and there's no escaping it. It's regularly in the mid 40s (c) in the sun on the dock, and the ship doesn't seem to be much cooler - once again the old air conditioning system is not performing too well, and it was 29 degrees (c) when we went to bed last night...Roll on rainy season! Olly

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Cutting up EYEBALLS

Here are some great photos of Joel, one of our optometrists, showing his team what makes up an eyeball. Click on any image to enlarge and see the glorious details. Olly

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Blissfully unaware

Sally and I didn't even know that the UK was voting for a new government until late on Friday, a whole day after the election. Olly

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


This afternoon I got stuck in a BAD traffic jam. A gridlock occurred at a busy crossroads a couple of kilometres from the port, and whilst motorists were trying to sort out the gridlock, all the gaps between their cars filled up with motorcyclists. It rapidly became every man for himself - everyone was pushing and honking and shouting without any sense or order. Traffic was packed so tightly even pedestrians couldn't cross the street, and some even had to climb onto my tow-ball to pass between me and the car close behind. Anyway, 30 minutes after the snarl started, I realised that my only option was to join in the pushing (very un-British!)...which I did, and managed to extricate myself within another 15 minutes. My blood pressure is only now getting back to normal. Olly

Tuesday, 4 May 2010


This is Ama. As you can see, her face has increasingly been distorted by this huge tumour. People in her village thought it was evidence of demons within her, and her husband abandoned her and their ten-year-old daughter. Recently, the tumour and her lower jaw were removed by surgeons on the Africa Mercy, and a titanium strip was inserted to hold the face together. To bring the muscles back into shape, she had therapy from none other that our Sally! Ama's face is looking even better now than in the most recent photo, and she is well on the way to having a bone graft to replace her lower jaw. Good job, Sally! Olly

101 Uses of a Land Rover: #62

Daft "tug-of-war" style games on the dock to celebrate Dutch "Queens Day". Olly

Saturday, 1 May 2010


We met this little girl last Sunday with the YWAM Kings Kids programme. She is called Beautiful, and she was, quite (although in the photo she looks a little sad). Great name, eh? I love many of the names they use in West Africa. Olly


This sign jumped out at me's made from flashing LEDs, which even demonstrate the direction of flow. Click on photo to enlarge. Olly