Mercy Ships Volunteers Sign On For Cruising Mission- Taking a cruise, perhaps around the world is one of the most hedonistic trips a person can take while traveling abroad. Hedonism argues that the pursuit of pleasure and intrinsic goods are the primary or most important goals of human life.
But, what if you could answer to your higher power and have a higher calling than having a crew of hundreds, even thousands, cater to your every need and instead travel by sea to help those people in dire need of the quality of life you and I take for granted? Consider social impact travel cruising.
We’ve covered social impact travel in the past, such as Carnival’s Fathom. Carnival’s Fathom cruise ship was the first cruise ship to travel to Cuba in more than forty years and was the first cruise ship targeted to social impact travel.
But, this is social impact travel for those who are capable of truly putting the needs of others, ahead of their own selfish desires, for more than a week at a time. If you think you have what it takes to travel long term on a mission for your higher power, read on.
Social impact travel cruising is great way to give back to humanity by donating your skills to Mercy Ships. Mercy Ships currently operates the largest non-governmental hospital ship in the world, Africa Mercy.
About Mercy Ships
Mercy Ships was founded in 1978 by Olathe, Colorado residents Don and Deyon Stephens. The couple, now in their 70s, have been married more than fifty years. Mercy Ships has outfitted and operated a total of four hospital ships to serve developing nations since 1978. Originally, it was a part of the YWAM (Youth with a Mission) family of Christian ministries, before becoming a standalone organization in 2003. The organization uses retired ocean liners and ferries that have been transformed into floating hospitals.
Mercy Ships provide humanitarian aid like free health care, community development projects, community health education, mental health programs, agriculture projects, and palliative care for terminally ill patients.
The first ocean liner acquired by Mercy Ships was the Victoria, which was purchased for its scrap value of US$1 million. The nine-deck vessel was transformed into the hospital ship MV Anastasis over a four-year period. The 522-foot ship was equipped with three operating rooms, a dental clinic, an x-ray machine, a laboratory and 40 patient beds. The ship’s 350-member crew included Mercy Ships founders Don and Deyon Stephens, who lived on board the ship with their four young children for ten years.
Africa Mercy was originally named Dronning Ingrid, then Ingrid before being named Africa Mercy in 2000. Her gross tonnage is 16,572 GT, with a length of 152.00 meters.
Mercy Ships Volunteer Opportunities
The organization has its International Support Center (ISC) in Garden Valley, Texas. Mercy Ships also has 16 national resource offices in countries that include Spain, Britain, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia, France, Korea, Denmark, Belgium, New Zealand, Sweden and Norway.
Mercy Ships offers short-term (two weeks to two years) and long-term (minimum two years) volunteer opportunities. Volunteers with Mercy Ships are responsible for paying all costs associated with their service, including crew fees, travel expenses, passports, immunizations, insurance and personal expenses. Because of this commitment, Mercy Ships is able to use direct contributions from its supporters to bring hope and healing to the poorest of the poor.
Mercy Ships needs volunteers for both medical and non-medical jobs. Due to the nature of the ship, positions for surgeons, dentists, and nurses are often readily available, but jobs such as deckhands, carpenters, seamen, teachers, cooks, engineers, machinists, welders, plumbers, videographers, photographers, writers, electricians and agriculturalists are also available.
Mercy Ships vessels have visited 594 ports, covering 56 developing nations. Its volunteers have provided services and materials in developing countries valued at over $1.53 billion. Mercy Ships has delivered services to more than 2.71 million direct beneficiaries and Mercy Ships volunteers have performed more than 95,000 free operations, such as cleft lip and palate, cataract removal, straightening of crossed eyes, and orthopedic and facial reconstruction. They have:
- Performed 448,000 dental procedures for over 175,000 dental patients.
- Trained more than 6,315 local professionals (including surgeons), who have in turn trained many others
- Trained over 42,250 local professionals in their area of expertise (anesthesiology, midwifery, sterilization, orthopedic and reconstructive surgery, leadership)
- Taught over 239,000 local people in basic healthcare.
- Completed over 1,110 infrastructure development and agriculture projects
The Africa Mercy, the only current Mercy Ship, in 2007 made its official maiden voyage to Monrovia, Liberia, from the shipyard in England. Annually Mercy Ships has more than 1,600 volunteers helping in locations around the world. That includes more than 900 volunteers from 45 nations serving each year in Africa with 400 of those on board the Africa Mercy at any given time. About 200 Africans also serve as day crew on the ship. In addition to the medical volunteers on the Africa Mercy, Mercy Ships also sends medical crews to aid at natural disaster sites such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
Currently, Africa Mercy is in port at Conakry (see tracker map above), the capital and largest city of Guinea on the continent of Africa. A port city, it serves as the economic, financial and cultural center of Guinea. Its population as of the 2014 Guinea census was 1,660,973.
Africa Mercy Amenities
- Large Laundry Room on board with up to ten washers and dryers. There is no charge to use these machines.
- Our well-stocked Library gives you access to study references, reading material, DVD’s, games, and magazines.
- The small Hair Salon on board offers free haircuts as well as perms, colourings, and other services at little charge to crew who are on board longer than one month.
- Our Starbucks™ Café is open at set hours weekdays and Saturdays.
- Our Crew Clinic and Crew Dental Clinic are available for those who become ill or are feeling poorly. Please note that more serious issues may have to be addressed in your home countries.
- Small Gym
- Internet Café & WiFi
- Crew Bank
- Post Office
- Convenience Store (Pier 99)
- Snack Bar
- Crew Galley for personal cooking
- Swimming pool
A second, purpose-built hospital ship, the Global Mercy, is currently under construction.
The contract to build Global Mercy was awarded to Stena RoRo, Göteborg, Sweden in 2014. Global Mercy was laid down on December 18, 2016 and was launched on February 8, 2018. Construction is being done by China Shipbuilding Industry Corp (CSIC) at the Tianjin Xingang Shipyard in Tianjin, China and is due to be completed in 2020.
Upon delivery, the Global Mercy will more than double the surgical capacity of Mercy Ships and have an expected lifespan of 50 years.
Many people in Africa have little or no access to healthcare. There are only 2.5 physicians per 10,000 people in Africa, compared to 25 physicians per 10,000 in the U.S. So the Africa Mercy brings volunteer medical teams and sterile operating rooms directly to people who would otherwise go without care.
At this time, Africa Mercy is the world’s largest civilian hospital ship providing state-of-the-art care to those in desperate need—free of charge.
- Live Cruise Ship Tracker – Africa Mercy
- Carnival Fathom Social Impact Travel
- Mercy Ships International
- Mercy Ships Community Discussions
- Africa Mercy Crew – What To Expect
- Mercy Ships Facebook
Video: National Geographic – Discovery Hospital or “Hottel” at the sea AFRICA MERCY – Documentary 2017