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FIFA President Joseph Blatter in Conakry Guinea, West Africa

Joseph S. Blatter, President of FIFA, the world governing body of football (soccer), paid a remarkable honor to Mercy Ships volunteers and patients when he paused from his hectic schedule to pay a personal visit to the Africa Mercy, the world’s largest charity hospital ship to witness its life-transforming work with his own eyes.

Blatter meets girl

Joseph S. Blatter, President of FIFA greets a patient onboard the Africa Mercy, docked in Conakry Guinea, West Africa. Mercy Ships Chief maxillofacial surgeon Dr. Gary Parker looks on
(Photo: Mercy Ships/
photographer Michelle Murrey)

According to a news release, President Blatter was in Conakry, Guinea on the second stop of his four-nation African tour.

“I was not only deeply impressed, but also touched by the care Mercy Ships is giving these poor people and how well you are organized. I am touched by the hope and courage given to those you are serving,” President Blatter remarked.

Mercy Ships Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Gary Parker, a devoted twenty-six-year volunteer surgeon, escorted President Blatter through the 78-bed hospital. Since 1978, Mercy Ships has provided over 61,000 free life-changing surgeries in addition to other medical procedures and training for African health care professionals.

Dr. Parker spoke enthusiastically about the impromptu visit of such a leading world figure. “People like the President of FIFA can mobilize the world for good things. President Blatter is a man of great vision. I know that he has a heart for the children of our world, and he uses sports to increase the opportunities they have. So, anytime we can collaborate with people who have a desire to see the children lifted up, I think it is great.”


Blatter meets surgeon

Dr. Gary Parker describes the devastating effects of noma, a condition found throughout West Africa (Photo: Mercy Ships/
photographer Michelle Murrey)

Africa Mercy Managing Director, Donovan Palmer, noted that, “Football (soccer) is at the heart of many in Africa. So, to have the President of FIFA stop in and give his best wishes to crew and to see patients is an incredible blessing. It has been an extraordinary surprise visit.”

Following the visit to the Africa Mercy, President Blatter’s Twitter account posted a photo where he stated: Just visited @MercyShips in Conakry. Impressed by this initiative which provides surgery to the most needy in Africa. (


President Blatter was in Guinea to be decorated with a medal of “National Merit” by Guinea’s President Alpha Condé according to a government statement in the Guinean capital.

African Mercy use

The Africa Mercy

About Mercy Ships: Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care services, capacity building and sustainable development to those without access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1 billion, impacting more than 2.35 million direct beneficiaries. Each year Mercy Ships has more than 1,200 volunteers from over 40 nations. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, health care trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. For more information, please go to:

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