Mercy Ships Is Honored by the Republic of Benin
Cotonou, Benin, West Africa, November 17, 2009 - Mercy Ships received a high honor given by the President of the Republic of Benin, H.E. Dr Thomas Yayi Boni, for bringing hope and healing to the forgotten poor. At a special State Dinner, H.E. President Boni conveyed the gratitude of his government and the people of Benin to those who serve on the Africa Mercy. All the Cabinet members from President Boni’s administration were in attendance. Busses carried 350 crew members, representing over 30 different nations, to the Governmental Palace in Contonou for the formal dinner. The guests were also entertained by a performance troupe displaying native dance and musical performance. The President was insistent that all Mercy Ships crew were honored and thoughtfully delivered the same native cuisine served at the event to the estimated 80 crew members who remained in service onboard the Africa Mercy.
In addition to the state dinner, Medals were awarded to Mercy Ships crew at the Palace that bestowed diplomatic status and privilege to report directly to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in honor of the 2009 Mercy Ships Field Service. This rare privilege is primarily reserved for national diplomats and not charitable organizations. Commendations of Commandeur de l'Ordre National du Benin (or Commanders of the Republic) award were given to Mercy Ships co-founders, Don and Deyon Stephens, and to Chief Eye Surgeon on the Africa Mercy, Dr. Glenn Strauss. This medal is highly regarded in all nations and is a lifetime award.
President Boni conveyed his thanks to Mercy Ships for their second visit to his nation this decade and for the love and care they showed the people of Benin. Mercy Ships follows the 2000-year-old model of Jesus in bringing hope and healing to all the people they serve– without regard to religion, ethnicity, or color.