"When I came to the ship I'd never seen the poverty that I saw in West Africa"
. At the makeshift Mercy Ship clinic all the patients carry the scars of poverty. However, most of these conditions are easily curable. So for Tertius the Mercy Ship is a calling that he can't refuse. "I had the feeling that there's something bigger we are born for"
For the people of West Africa the aid provided by Tertius and his colleagues is a lifeline. For Ambroise, whose arm is swollen and misformed, the ship was a surprise and offered him a new lease of life. "They told me foreigners were treating the sick and I said, "Really?"
Before the operation he found it difficult to do manual work and he would never take off his shirt out of shame. But according to his wife that has all changed, "He walks around bare-chested now and that makes me happy!"
Hyacinthe is a ten year-old boy growing up in rural West Africa. When he was a baby he fell into hot ash and the skin grew back, pulling the leg into a permanent folded position. The surgery that Tertius makes will straighten Hyacinthe's leg, changing his life forever. After the operation he is able to walk without his crutch and live a more regular life "Now it's easier for him to do whatever, and he can look after me"
, says his uncle.
But for Tertius conflict remains at the heart of what he does. While he feels he is carrying out an essential mission, and loves bringing joy into people's lives, it all comes at a great personal cost. He's away from his family 9 months of the year and his wife finds it hard to come to terms with his choice to do this. "My feelings of rejection were very intense"
. Yet Tertius feels it isn't a choice, this is something he is inexorably drawn to, "But if I leave I turn my back on God"
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