‘Kids seem to have a natural way to break down social barriers,’ shares Karin, a primary teacher from Auckland on board the Mercy Ship.
‘The boys in my class love playing soccer, cards and other games. Sometimes the students go with their parents to visit the patients in the wards in the evenings. Interacting with patients (adults and kids) sometimes came naturally to my students, other times it took more courage. I remember a few special occasions when we would stop halfway down the hall before heading upstairs, and just pray for courage to step out of our comfort zones.’
‘One of the unique parts of being a teacher for the crew children is the opportunity to interact with the patients like Mouhamed, alongside our students. Weekly, our class visited patients during their free time on deck 7.’
Karin describes teaching the crew’s children on board the Mercy Ship as, ‘A blend of some of my life’s pipe dreams; working in a cross-cultural context, teaching and living in community. I found the prospect both hilarious and too good to pass up’.
Imagine a small town where the main industry is a surgical hospital. There’s a post office, a bank, a corner store, a café – and of course a school. The children of long-term crew members attend the Mercy Ships Academy, an accredited international Christian school catering for students from preschool to high school graduation.
The benefits of living with people from more than 40 nations with a wide range of skills and experience is already evident for Karin. ‘Once my class was invited to view the fire drill by the emergency teams. We ‘set the fire’ in the laundry room, alerted the bridge, watched as the fire crew came in to ‘extinguish the fire’ and haul out the ‘body’. We observed the Emergency Medical Team perform CPR on the mannequin as well as use the defibrillators – all a few days after learning about the circulatory and respiratory systems in science.
‘Hearing the students relate their own experiences with Mercy Ships has been inspiring. I have heard some of the parents share their stories; decisions to sell houses, leave families, friends and jobs to take the risk and join this crazy experience called Mercy Ships. But hearing the students’ process their own journeys is something else. I’ve listened as they’ve started to recognise the courage their parents mustered to make the decision to join, and listened as the children process the reasons for making this decision. It’s a truly unique position to be in.’