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Kanwal Prakash Singh | Indianapolis, Indiana
Posted: 05:16 PM | January 05, 2011

Aboard the Africa Mercy

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Photo Source: Kanwal Prakash Singh

The Africa Mercy Ship docked at Lome, Togo.

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Photo Source: Kanwal Prakash Singh

The Africa Mercy Ship docked at Lome, Togo.

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Photo Source: Kanwal Prakash Singh

Entrance to the Africa Mercy ship.

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Photo Source: Kanwal Prakash Singh

Kanwal Parkash Singh with wife Janice (in orange) and Captain Tim Tretheway with other members of the Vision Team.

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Photo Source: Kanwal Prakash Singh

Kanwal Prakash Singh in the Eye Surgery Theater.

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Photo Source: Kanwal Prakash Singh

Celebration by cataract surgery patients at the eye clinic in Lome.

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Photo Source: Kanwal Prakash Singh

Vision Team members John Paul and Joyce Ann Ketels at the craft market, Lome.

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The volunteers are willing to sacrifice their cherished freedoms and put personal ambitions on hold for a while. They know all too well that the task will be demanding, comforts and privacy are limited, and the host countries sometimes can erupt into chaos without warning. Volunteers are motivated and eager to make a lasting impact on the forgotten among the human race. Their dedication and idealism reminds us that we are all stewards of the sacred faith ideals and commandments enshrined in every major faith tradition: “To serve the least among you.”

The ship family finds its anchor and strength in the knowledge that they have been called to serve in the Name of the Lord. Besides the exotic nature and spiritual and cultural romance of the experience, this is a powerful driving force that attracts the volunteers, some of them with their families and others serve many repeat ‘tours’ of humanitarian duty with Mercy Ships.

Amidst this labor of love, lasting friendships blossom among the shipmates and with the local people who assist and continue the work of healing after the Ship has departed for another country to a new ‘port of call.’

In daily prayer, Sikhs are reminded: “When God’s Grace is upon us, the undreamed-of becomes manifest to our mind and spirit.” Aboard this Ship, we saw a deeply humanitarian spirit manifested before us and witnessed the life-changing service that the Africa Mercy is performing.

We saw programs in place that recognize the changes taking place in these countries from the once-strictly-agrarian-societies with tribal cultural underpinnings and lifestyles to opportunities and challenges of modern societies. We noticed that the caregivers make sure that the valued traditions and experiences of their patients are thoughtfully integrated into their programs.

Our vision team was fortunate to witness a patient celebration at an off-ship eye clinic run by the Mercy Ships. There was a joyous demonstration by patients who had benefited from successful eye surgeries. One could see excitement in their faces and immeasurable gratitude in their dance of joy. This summed up what the heart and soul of what Mercy Ships is all about - repairing the scars and restoring the joy of living for members of our extended human family.

The formidable task of extending hope and healing to millions suffering across our planet and in need requires many more imaginative, innovative, and daring initiatives like Mercy Ships, International Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, literacy initiatives, and the serving of daily free meals without distinction to over 100,000 at the Golden Temple at Amritsar. We need many more benefactors and dedicated volunteers ready to serve in capacities, and in places, that stretch the bounds of personal comfort and self-interests. Once we are past the ethnic and cultural divides, human civilization has the infinite capacity to fulfill a sacred moral mandate: to love and serve another and see God’s Light in each other.

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Commentaries are the opinions of the authors, and not necessarily that of Sikh News Network.





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