This is a neat article about a surgeon from Salt Lake City, Utah who recently worked for a month on a "mercy ship" or "floating hospital" doing orthopedic surgeries off the coast of Africa: Salt Lake City doctor boards 'Mercy Ship.'
The Africa Mercy ship, "a 16-500-ton vessel... has six operating rooms and 78 beds, making it a floating island of clean, antiseptic medical care." During 2011, approximately 1,200 volunteers on the ship will provide medical care docked near Freetown, Sierra Leone - FREE medical care, focused on "orthopedic deformities."
It highlights an impressive form of humanitarian aid, a popular and applauded one, but also a criticized one. The medical resources in Sierra Leone are scarce, not to mention the civil war, widespread poverty, and lack of nutritious food (causing severe deformities). However, the government may neglect its responsibility to create a medical system that provides the services offered on the Africa Mercy, simply because it can - particularly if the ship is there anyway. However, the instability and often corrupt activities of the governments in these poverty-stricken countries are real and complex problems.
Critics may argue that this is merely creating a type of dependency, but, this type of aid, I believe, is sometimes necessary. It is an amazing and wonderful way for people from more economically developed countries to give of their time and talents to those who desperately need help in developing countries.
Wouldn't it be so neat to be involved with something like this?