Craig couple volunteers on hospital ship | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig couple volunteers on hospital ship

Patrick Kelly

With help from the community, a Craig couple is bringing much needed medical care to some of the poorest ports in Africa aboard the world's largest charity hospital ship.

John and Tracey Wall boarded the Africa Mercy shipAfrica Mercy ship with their two daughters for the first time in 2012 when John filled an opening as the ship’s finance director. Since then the Wall family has been to Guinea, the Republic of the Congo and Madagascar. with their two daughters for the first time in 2012 when John filled an opening as the ship's finance director. Since then the Wall family has been to Guinea, the Republic of the Congo and Madagascar.

Africa Mercy ship with their two daughters for the first time in 2012 when John filled an opening as the ship's finance director. Since then the Wall family has been to Guinea, the Republic of the Congo and Madagascar.

The Africa Mercy is part of a global charity called Mercy ShipsMercy Ships, which has operated a fleet of hospital ships in developing nations since 1978., which has operated a fleet of hospital ships in developing nations since 1978.

Mercy Ships, which has operated a fleet of hospital ships in developing nations since 1978.

According to a fact sheet from Mercy Ships, the charity has provided services and materialsservices and materials in developing nations valued at over $1.2 billion to date. in developing nations valued at over $1.2 billion to date.

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services and materials in developing nations valued at over $1.2 billion to date.

"Our vision statement is to bring hope and healing to the world's forgotten poor," said John. "We do that by using hospital ships to bring world-class healthcare and then also do some training with the local medical infrastructure."

Procedures preformed by the ship's volunteer surgeons include cleft lip and palate repair, cataract removal, orthopaedic procedures, plastics surgery, maxillofacial reconstruction and obstetric fistula repair.

Africa Mercy is currently the charity's only ship in operation and it accommodates an average crew of 450 people — all volunteers who are actually charged for their room and board.

"We don't just ask people to volunteer, we ask people to pay to volunteer," John said.

For the family's first year on the ship, Tracey was raising their two daughters, 2-year-old Adalynn and 3-month-old Cora, and hadn't begun working on the ship. The girls are now 4 and 3 years old. The Walls now also have a 21-month-old son Jack.

With a background in medicine, it was hard to sit back and not help in the beginning, Tracey said.

"I had always wanted to do medical work in Africa so to move to a ship that is a hospital and not be doing any medical work was hard," Tracey said.

In Spring of 2013, after returning to Colorado for several months to give birth to her son, Tracey returned to the ship and started working as a physician's assistant.

"The first two years were great and wonderful but it's been really, really neat to be a part of medically what goes on in the ship," she said.

Right now, the Wall family is in Toamasina, MadagascarToamasina, Madagascar, but to cover their crew fees they are dependent on help from back home in Craig., but to cover their crew fees they are dependent on help from back home in Craig.

Toamasina, Madagascar, but to cover their crew fees they are dependent on help from back home in Craig.

John said they are members of The Journey at First BaptistThe Journey at First Baptist and the congregation has been very helpful in supporting the family. and the congregation has been very helpful in supporting the family.

The Journey at First Baptist and the congregation has been very helpful in supporting the family.

"They help support us to be able to do this," he said.

Associate pastor Gary Tague at The Journey said Mercy Ships is an exciting project.

"It's awesome, it's just a privilege to be a part of," he said.

Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@craigdailypress.com. Follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@craigdailypress.com. Follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.

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