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By JEFF STEPHENSON
THE scenes they were confronted with
in the West African nation of Sierra
Leone were shocking but Glen and
Carmen Ryan were not shocked.
They had been stung by them before
in another place and at another time.
There is no question the imagery
touched a nerve and while never
accepting it, the Shoalhaven Heads
couple found they were more
determined than ever to use their
talents to help ease the suffering.
"We were not shocked by the images
we saw, but we have been reminded
again that there are people with great
needs through no fault of their own."
"They deserve all the love and help
we can give."
The Ryans recently returned from a
10-week sojourn as volunteers with
Mercy Ships on the world's largest
charity hospital ship in the West African
nation, one of the world's poorest. They
used their long service leave to enable
"The needs are so immense that at
times you think all the effort is of no use,"
Carmen says. "At times we think, 'We
can't make any significant change'. But it
just takes seeing one person's life
changed, seeing the joy on that person's
face, to reassure us that we were in the
right place and making a difference,
one person at a time," she explains.
Carmen has 10 years' ophthalmic
nursing experience and worked with
the Africa Mercy's eye team screening
patients and working with those
receiving free cataract surgery to
Glen, a teacher, was part of a seven-
member information services team
involved in a range of tasks including
helping to run a network of more than
200 computers and providing desktop
assistance to users.
The couple heard about the work of
Mercy Ships through a friend who
served in West Africa in 2007 and they
offered themselves for three weeks'
service in Liberia in 2008.
Their first period of charity work in,
Liberia, only partly prepared them for
the images of life in Sierra Leone's
"We found that because of the
increased population in Freetown, the
mayhem on the streets of the city was a
nightmare," Glen recalls.
"The sight of men clearing out the
putrid gutters along the streets with
young boys going through the slop
salvaging aluminium cans was
revolting. Daily living for these people is
a struggle. Because of the lack of health
Glen and Carmen Ryan
from Shoalhaven Heads
dockside, with the
Africa Mercy in the
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