Arrival / by Ryan Chen

For three months I'll be volunteering with Mercy Ships a global non-profit that provides free medical care to the poor. I'll be living and working aboard the Africa Mercy, a large hospital ship home to roughly 350 volunteers. The ship spends roughly 6 months to a year in ports around West Africa and is currently docked in Lomé, Togo. My job will be serving as a photographer giving a voice to the patients and the efforts of the medical staff. The goal is to continue spreading awareness and raising support for this operation so that lives can continue to be saved and renewed.

On the plane from Brussels I met two other volunteers who will also be serving short term.  After a long flight we finally arrived in Lomé. The airport is small with only one waiting room and one baggage claim. We were picked up by Californian named Josh who I will also be working with in the media department. 

Shortly outside the airport the pavement became dirt roads. Our Land Rover drove through the dusty streets as we passed shacks and trash lit bonfires. We arrived only fifteen minutes later and I was able to catch my first glimpse of the Africa Mercy.



The bright white ship seemed like a beacon in the industrial port.



 Four medical tents and twenty more Mercy Ships Land Rovers lined the docks.



I was warmly greeted by a woman from hospitality at the ship and shown my cabin. After meeting my cabin mates, I got some much needed rest. Though tired from my journey I was extremely excited for all the challenges that lie ahead.