Photographs allow powerful stories to unfold through brief moments captured on camera. One photograph taken by Mercy Ships videographer, Kathryn (Kat) Sotolongo, illustrated the incredible impact Mercy Ships is having in the world.

The photograph was one of 10 photographs selected as a winner in the Lancet’s annual photography competition, Highlights. It was published by the Lancet, where Mercy Ships was recognised for its efforts to serve and empower the people of West Africa. The photograph depicts Odry Agbessi, the first female plastic reconstructive surgeon in Benin.

Dr. Agbessi’s accomplishment and her drive to succeed amidst difficult circumstances is captured by Sotolongo in the photograph, which represents why Mercy Ships exists.

“Mercy Ships provided training so (Dr. Agbessi) could develop her skills. Through our medical capacity building efforts, we help the nations we serve by providing knowledge, tools and resources to deliver health care,” Sotolongo said.

As Mercy Ships continues to work in West Africa through surgical training, mentoring and infrastructure improvements, people like Dr. Agbessi shine with potential to make a difference in their world.

Thanks to Sotolongo’s award-winning photograph of Dr. Agbessi, a story of courage and strength has unfolded, and people around the world can see the lasting impact Mercy Ships has, long after it departs.