Jessica and family

via Wellington.

Jessica doing art with her teacher & a patient

Jessica lives on the Mercy Ship with her parents. She is nine years old and she attends school on board. Her classmates are the children of other crew members from all over the globe. She lives with her parents in a family cabin and while they are at work Jessica attends class. There are around 50 or so kids from across the globe in the Academy,  aged from months old to 18 years. They have some pretty amazing adventures in their shipboard school Jessica’s Dad Erik works as an anaesthesia provider in the Mercy Ships operating theatres, and while she’s at school her dietitian Mum Kerry works in the Infant Feeding Programme.

Jessica was born in Wellington while her South African dad was undergoing his anaesthesia training. At that time Australian-born Kerry won the Dietitians Association of NZ award.


The family’s claim to fame in this instance is that Jessica is New Zealand-born, so the whole family gets invited along to the Kiwi get- togethers, including Waitangi Day and ANZAC celebrations. Where ever possible treats from home are brought along by incoming Kiwis, and the master-bakers onboard turn their hand to pav making – local ingredients permitting.

Read more about Kerry’s work onboard with malnourished babies who required cleft palate surgery here

With thanks: Filmed and produced by TVNZ SUNDAY, and made with funding from New Zealand on Air





Erik Andersen, Anaesthesia Provider, in the Mercy Ships operating rooms








maritime, medical and general volunteer roles with Mercy Ships