Caring for another, giving of oneself, going the extra mile, listening carefully, and showing great mercy – these are the traits the care givers on the great white hospital ship demonstrate every single day, day after day. Volunteers all, the surgeons, nurses, lab techs, X-Ray technicians, medical support staffers, dentists, dental hygenists, ship’s crew, cooks,teachers, servers, coffee baristas, and cleaners actually pay their own way to be on this hospital ship in West Africa. Yes, you read that correctly. They are true volunteers in every sense, willing to spend their time and resources to do something positive, needed, and life-affirming.
The Africa Mercy is a state-of-the-art hospital ship; the only privately-owned and sponsored one in the world. She is staffed by volunteers; people such as you and I who realize that millions of West Africa’s people have no access to badly needed medical and dental care. Without regard to race, gender or religion, those in need are served. In Africa, 75% of the people live near a port city. The Africa Mercy comes into a port, providing a clean, controlled medical facility all ready to serve. The volunteers go out into the country to find people in need and bring them back to the ship for care. Radio advertising in the African country also helps to encourage people to come to the ship for help.
I have worked in and for volunteer organizations for all of my adult life, and it is my considered opinion that the volunteers I have met through my work with Mercy Ships are the most open-hearted, giving, generous, and caring I have ever encountered. There is an extraordinary spirit of “we CAN do it!” in the volunteers. I have been proud to be a part of the Mercy Ship’s volunteer staff, I continue to support Mercy Ships financially, and I represent the organization whenever I can to let others know about the good work being done.
Another aspect of Mercy Ships that should be mentioned is its highest rating by the Better Business Bureau as an accredited charity. Every dollar contributed is matched (one and one half times) by contributed goods and services, thanks to many generous corporate donations of medical equipment and other goods. Mercy Ships is financially transparent; its annual financial statements are posted on its website for the world to see. It is not as a Pollyanna that I affirm Mercy Ships to be honest and caring; I’ve seen the world, and the world is enriched by the work of Mercy Ships and her volunteers.
Our family of four was able to serve six summers (so far!) aboard the Anastasis and the Africa Mercy. We served in Europe, South Africa, Liberia, Benin, Sierra Leone, and Togo as leaders of the Academy's Summer Program. Our job enabled us to work with the ship children during the day, in daily activities with them as well as bringing the children to see the patients on the ward and at Hope Centre. As a family, we can not say enough good things about Mercy Ships. Each time of service was better than the time before. Imagine seeing the first patient arrive in Liberia for surgery on the Africa Mercy . . . imagine your children asking you each time you visit an orphanage or the ward if we could please adopt again . . . imagine see a glimpse of heaven on earth as people from every tribe and nation gather together to worship our God . . . imagine seeing the lame walk, the blind see, and those without hope receive hope. These were amazing times for our family and we all look forward to the day we can return to the ship and serve again!
My husband Frank and I spent 5 years as volunteers with Mercy Ships on the M.V. Anastasis from 1999 to 2004 (4-6 months of each year) and we are a donor to the ministry now and would love to serve again if we have the opportunity. We know that they need a ship especially designed for this type of ministry and we're told that plans are in the works to build one. The "60 Minutes" program had featured Mercy Ships twice and on the update it told of a couple that made a generous donation toward the construction of this ship. We have seen first hand the lives that have been saved and changed through the free surgeries, dental work, community development, etc. Through the building of clinics, wells, latrines and the education of Africans in basic hygiene, waste management and maintenance of a pure water supply, they have benefited West Africa in a most positive way.
My husband was able to observe several of the surgeries, and was most fascinated by that experience. He is a machinist and welder so he was doing repairs on the old ship that had to be retired. I did a different job each time we went back. I even cooked on the second trip. I love children so I worked in the pre-school 2 years. My college was in accounting so I worked in the bank on the ship helping exchange money and other money matters. We were involved as retirees and found it the most rewarding experience of our lives with many blessings and benefits we had not dreamed of prior to joining Mercy Ships. Serving as part of an international crew, we now have a wonderful international family that have learned the most important lesson in life....our life is not all about us and as we give of ourselves and our resources, we experience the blessings of God and the joy of giving to those much less fortunate than us. We are so blessed to have served with Mercy Ships
Frank & Wendy Barker Mesa, Arizona
I was very impressed with the entire organization. First and foremost, having the ship stay in one location for 9 or months provides continuity of care that many of the 1-2 week medical missions don't provide. This also gives sustainabilty for the longterm for the care of that particulr region where the ship is docked.
The focus on the mission of providing excellent surgical care to this very poor patient population is extraordinary. The logistics of getting there and having all the volunteers from all over the world work together in a friendly and focused manner says alot about the organization and the people who volunteer to work on the shipi.
Also, many thanks to the people behind the scenes at headquarters that help coordinate the thousands that make the commitment.
The experience (fall of 2011) I recevied during my stay was beyond expectations, and had me coming back this year for a longer stay and bringing a surgical resident to potentially develop a humanitarian surgery rotation.
My Wife and I wanted to serve with an organization that would allow us to bring our daughter. Not experienced at traveling and staying overseas as a family we wanted to find an organization we could trust should something happen. We were able to do this in 2008 - 2009.
Mercy Ships met that need. Not only were we able to serve as a family but we were able to engage in the culture in many ways.
Mercy Ships provides a safe mission experience. Great place for any person wanting to do something in another country for the first time.
I have served with this organization for over 13 years and have served both on board the ship - Africa Mercy and at the International Office in Lindale where I am still currently serving. I totally believe in the vision and mission of Mercy Ships and have seen first hand tens of thousands of lives impacted/transformed through the work Mercy Ships does. Mercy Ships cares for the whole person and makes a positive difference in the lives of those they meet. I feel honored and privileged to have a small part in what they do and to be able to say I represent Mercy Ships through my work.
I volunteered and served onboard MV Africa Mercy the summer of 2012 and it was the most rewarding experience of my life! To see the changes that the ship makes in lives first hand is amazing! To have the opportunity to make a difference was wonderful! There is close a knit community onboard ship with one goal, to serve people and improve the lives of the less fortunate. I feel very blessed for having been a part of that community for a short while!
I joined the Mercy Ships team over 10 years ago and lived on board one of the ships or 3 1/2 years and then transferred to work in the Texas International Operations Center. I enjoy what I do as it is behind the scenes, but it brings such great rewards to see the transformations in peoples lives when they receive a surgery that literally changes or saves their lives. I work with some really great people.
I've worked on the Africa Mercy once before, 5 months is Guinee. There I desided to come back for 3 months to the Republic of Congo. I'm a wardnurse, and worked serveral specialties like VVF (Vesica Vaginal Fistula), orthopedics and plastics. Very diffirent then the work you do at home! All the diffirent nationalities on one ward, lower complexity in patient care, but very good for spending real time with the patients and personal development. A very good experience for me, something that changed my life for ever! During the time with Mercy Ships you get to have time to really think what you want to do next and how you want and can serve God. The most importend thing.
I initially took a three-month leave of absence from work in order to volunteer with Mercy Ships. That three months turned into a total of 14 months while the ship was in Benin (2009) and Togo (2010). I started as a ward nurse but also worked as a charge nurse and helped coordinate the VVF (vesico-vaginal fistula) surgery program in Togo.
Most importantly, I re-energized my passion for nursing and discovered that there's no greater joy than using the skills God has given you to help others. It was both a joy and a challenge to live and work in such close quarters with an international volunteer crew.
My time with Mercy Ships was a watershed experience for me. I might have stayed longer, but I returned to the USA to further my nursing education with the goal of returning overseas with greater skills and training. I would definitely consider serving with Mercy Ships in the future.