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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Philanthropists Help Hospital Ship Provide Care for Poor

By Jeremy Reynalds
Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

GARDEN VALLEY, TEXAS (ANS) -- Two Texas-based foundations, The Rees-Jones Foundation and the T. Boone Pickens Foundation, have announced matching gifts of $2 million each toward the work of the world's largest non-governmental hospital ship, the Africa Mercy.

According to a news release from Mercy Ships, the Rees-Jones family toured the Africa Mercy in Newcastle, England, while the vessel was still under shipyard refit from rail ferry to hospital ship. As a result, they made grants totaling $2 million to support the work done on the ship.

“The vision of our foundation is that those who are poor and disadvantaged or who are suffering spiritually, physically or emotionally will experience the love of Christ in tangible ways, receiving relief from their suffering, encouragement in their growth and improvement in their quality of life,” said Trevor Rees-Jones speaking in a news release.

He with his wife Jan, founded The Rees-Jones Foundation. Rees-Jones added, “The vision of Mercy Ships matches ours exactly.”

Hearing about the Rees-Jones Foundation pledge of support during the Dallas visit of Mercy Ships patron and former Prime Minister Sir John Major last fall, T. Boone Pickens offered to match that amount through his foundation.

“Mercy Ships offers first world care to those who might not otherwise have access to any health care at all,” Pickens said in a news release. “We are pleased to invest in the ongoing work of such a world-class operation.”

The 16, 572 ton Africa Mercy, owned and operated by the charity Mercy Ships, made its maiden voyage to Africa last year and is currently docked in the Port of Monrovia, Liberia.

According to Mercy Ships, since the ship’s arrival last May, volunteer professionals have provided surgeries and health care procedures for more than 15,000 Liberians. This is part of the effort by Africa’s first woman president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to rebuild the nation’s healthcare infrastructure after more than a decade of civil war in the country.

Don Stephens, founder and president of Mercy Ships said in a news release, “We are thrilled to have the support of these two foundations which have big hearts for the forgotten poor. Our volunteers are only able to help those in Africa through the generosity of others, and we are honored to have them engaged to support our mission of hope and healing.”

Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free health care services to the poor. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships brings hope and healing to the poor in developing nations.

According to the organization, during the last 30 years, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $670 million, directly impacting more than 1.9 million people.

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Jeremy Reynalds is a freelance writer and the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter, He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is "The Face of Homelessness." Additional details are available at He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at Tel: (505) 400-7145. Note: A higher resolution JPEG picture of Jeremy Reynalds is available on request from Dan Wooding at

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