In the News

Our world looks very different today than it did this time last year. We are aware, now more than ever, of the healthcare fragility that many nations face.

When Whangamata couple Sinclair and Kathy Carter learned they had the skills needed to help provide essential surgery for people in West Africa, they were surprised – because Sinclair is a seafarer.

Sinclair Carter’s life at sea has run the gambit. From a family of seafarers going back two generations, the Chief Engineer began as an apprentice and sailed the across the Pacific, through Asia and Europe – but a hospital ship in Africa was something new entirely.

‘The industry has been good to me,’ explains Sinclair. ‘I saw there was a need. I had a desire to pass on knowledge and experience.’ That need was a volunteer opportunity aboard the 16,000 tonne Mercy Ship, a transportable platform for a world class surgical hospital dedicated to providing essential services for Africa’s poorest people.

 

Kathy’s experience as a project manager with a background in intensive care nursing joined the dots and in February the couple signed up for a three-month tour of duty volunteering with Mercy Ships in Senegal, West Africa. ‘We both decided that we wanted to do something which gave back to people in a more meaningful way, reflects Kathy. ‘We are the support service and keep things running so that others can treat those in need,’ adds Sinclair. ‘We provide the service platform to run the ship.’

Kathy Carter, Deck and Engineering Administrator, recording readings from the engine control room.

 

With Kathy as the deck administrator and Sinclair as second engineer, the couple’s volunteer service in the Africa Mercy technical team proved to be both compelling and vital. When the global COVID-19 outbreak occurred a month after their arrival, Mercy Ships shortened the 10-month field service in Senegal to eight months out of concern for the health and wellbeing of both patients and crew. The couple not only took the changed circumstances in their stride, they extended their original three-month tour-of-duty to six; until August.

‘I am blessed to have my wife with me during this time. We have kept each other grounded and philosophical about the events that have occurred,’ reflects Sinclair. ‘We have been fortunate to have our community ‘bubble’ here on the ship so we haven’t felt like we’re missing out on much. Perhaps being older makes us more accepting of the ‘restrictions’ being placed on us due to COVID19, however we just feel we are in the safest place right at the moment. We hope we can serve as role models to some of the younger crew.’

‘The engineering team are fantastic and working with them has been the real highlight of my time on Mercy Ships, says. Sinclair. ‘They are from a range of countries; Ghana, Sierra Leone, Benin, Cameroon, USA, Madagascar, Japan, UK, Denmark, Switzerland. Everybody is here because they want to be here. A whole bunch of people who have chosen to be here.’ The Carters will serve the remainder of their tour-of-duty on board the Mercy Ship docked in the Canary Islands in their COVID-19 free bubble of the remaining 130, primarily technical, crew members.

‘It will be difficult to return to the normal commercial world,’ reflects Sinclair.  ‘I think Mercy Ships has changed my attitude toward other people, helped me become more open, less judgemental.  I have become more conscious of how privileged and entitled we are in the Western world.’

For many people living in sub-Saharan Africa, the healthcare landscape is dire, with many lacking access to basic medical and surgical care. This is why Mercy Ships exists—to strengthen healthcare systems through training and mentoring while reducing the strain on those systems through free, life-changing surgery. And that is why huge-hearted people like Sinclair volunteer their technical skills; because ships of mercy couldn’t float without them.

Currently the charity’s emphasis is remotely providing e-Learning, specific healthcare courses and logistical support for local colleagues in the front line of the fight against COVID in West Africa, and the supply of PPE. However, Mercy Ships needs volunteers to power the hospital ships as they prepare to return to Africa in early 2021 to continue strengthening local healthcare systems for the future alongside the provision of essential surgery for the present.

There are volunteer opportunities for professional mariners who want to have their families at sea with them, who want to see something different and be part of the Mercy Ships mission of providing access to safe, timely healthcare.

maritime, medical and general volunteer roles with Mercy Ships

In the News

IN WEST AND CENTRAL AFRICA IN CONTRAVIRUS FIGHT.

Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, Director-General, Ghana Health Services, took delivery on June 18 of a donation of PPE designated for the nation of Ghana today by Mercy Ships President Rosa Whitaker on behalf of the charity to support the national battle with coronavirus.

“We applaud Ghana’s fight against this virus,” stated Whitaker. “Mercy Ships is committed to build on the collaboration between NGOs, the private sector and the public sector and encourages others to do the same,” she added.

“Although many have predicted that the pandemic is inevitable within Africa and that this continent will soon become the epicentre of the new outbreak, we stand with our African partners at this crucial time. It is our hope and belief that nations can get ahead of this curve and hold back the relentless effects that this pandemic could have on our formal and informal economies and people,” stated Whitaker.

“For more than 30 years, Mercy Ships has stood shoulder to shoulder with our African partners to address the global surgery crisis. Even though borders are closed, and we cannot physically be present right now, Mercy Ships continues to conduct online medical capacity training and support ongoing projects with partners on the ground. We are committed for our ship to return to help strengthen healthcare systems within West and Central Africa, as soon as the global situation allows,” said Whitaker.

Mercy Ships has donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to eight partner nations within West and Central Africa: Benin, Congo, Ghana, Liberia, Madagascar, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo totalling 80,800 items and 20 infrared thermometers and will donate PPE to an additional three countries Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Guinea.

The donation to Ghana includes 9000 (PPE) items consisting of 1,500 nursing caps, 1,500 medical protective glasses, 1,500 masks FFP2, 1,500 pairs of gloves, 1,500 surgical gowns, 1,500 pairs of shoe covers and five Infrared Thermometers (IT).

The people of Ghana hold a warm place in the hearts of all Mercy Ships crew, volunteers, and international staff said Whitaker. Mercy Ships has been involved with Ghana since 1991 and a Mercy Ship has docked four times in Ghana. (1) The Africa Mercy has 85 long/short term crew from Africa, 10 of whom are Ghanaians in roles ranging from engineering to HR.

The donation was made in the presence of Dr Juliette Tuakli and Lucy Quist, Mercy Ships International Board Members who reside in Ghana.

(1) Mercy Ships field services to Ghana: (1991, 1994-1995, 2006-2007 and 2011-2012).

In the News

Day of the Seafarer 

Seafarers are key workers who keep our ships operational and use their skills to deliver humanitarian development and transform thousands of lives each year. On International Day of the Seafarer, we honour seafarers everywhere and highlight four of our incredible marine volunteers who power our ships. 

Mercy Ships floating hospital, the Africa Mercy, is the largest charity-run hospital ship in the world.

RODRIGO

Rodrigo Silva is our Chief Officer. Originally from Brazil, Rodrigo oversees the deck’s maintenance, cargo loading operations, treatment of freshwater, and sailing. He also leads the fire teams, amongst many other things.

“One of the highlights of volunteering with Mercy Ships is that I can do what I know how to do and have my family with me. One of the cornerstones of seafaring life is that we are away and missing the things that are happening back home with the kids, with schooling, and with your spouse. Being onboard with Mercy Ships is different; you’re able to be together. So you can work and, at the end of the day, walk back to your cabin and see your family. It’s unbelievably good.”

When asked if he would recommend working at Mercy Ships to other seafarers, Rodrigo, without hesitation, said, “I would encourage seafarers out there to come. You can expect an inviting work environment and the satisfaction of seeing your work making a real difference in the lives of the patients we serve.”

JOE

Joe Biney is from Ghana and has been volunteering with Mercy Ships since 1991. He volunteers onboard with his family. Joe is currently our Third Engineer and he and his team of engineers power the Africa Mercy from the Engine Room. Seafarers like Joe play a major part in delivering Mercy Ships medical capacity building and free surgery programmes. Without the generators in the Engine Room, there would be no lighting for the hospital, no power for the galley, and no air conditioning keeping the ship cool.

“With Mercy Ships, you are not alone. You have support. On a commercial ship, you may be alone, but onboard with Mercy Ships, people are standing with you. These people become your brothers and sisters, they become your friends. In the Engine Room, we work as a team. We have one goal that we are all working to achieve—to make sure people get help… It is a privilege and it is an opportunity and it is an honour to serve with Mercy Ships.”

 

TAYLOR

“This is where I am supposed to be. There is no question about that.”

Captain Taylor Perez was introduced to Mercy Ships in 1984 when his ship stopped in Hawaii to refuel on its way from the States to Asia. Our previous ship, the Anastasis, was docked nearby and some of the crew invited him onboard for lunch.

“I was absolutely stunned by the quality of the crew and atmosphere onboard,” he said. “They were very impressive, and it was a very professional organisation.”

After that meeting, Perez began to volunteer with Mercy Ships during his time off. Since then, he has captained every single one of the Mercy Ships fleet at one time or another and is now Captain of the current flagship, the Africa Mercy.

“The ship is the hospital. You can’t have the hospital without the ship. The doctors and nurses, who do such an amazing job, could not do it without the ship. The ship can’t operate without its mariners.

We don’t just need doctors and nurses, we need Deck Officers, Engine Ratings, ABs, Motormen, Engineers as well as carpenters, electricians and other  professionals who can take the time to see something different and be part of something with a big impact.”

RUBEN

Ruben Galama worked as a mechanical engineer in The Netherlands, prior to joining the Mercy Ships Engineering Department. He is currently working as an HVAC technician within the hotel engineering department.

“I originally signed up for one year and that was three and a half years ago! I don’t have any medical skills, but I do have the skills to help keep the ship operational and the hospital running so patients can get the treatment they need. Everyone onboard is a cog in the overall system and contributes towards the Africa Mercy achieving her goals of bringing hope and healing. Even though we are not directly involved with the patients, we are all a part of the team that makes this happen. It’s rewarding to be able to use my skills to make a difference.”

 

Our world looks very different today than it did this time last year. We are aware, now more than ever, of the healthcare fragility that many nations face. For many people living in sub-Saharan Africa, the healthcare landscape is even more dire, with many lacking access to basic medical and surgical care. This is why Mercy Ships exists—to strengthen healthcare systems through training and mentoring whilst reducing the strain on those systems through free, life-changing surgery. 

WOMEN IN STEM, Martina, Nic, Rahel and Veera

 

 

 

Mercy Ships needs volunteers like you to power our ships as we prepare to return to Africa to help rebuild and strengthen healthcare systems. We need professional mariners who want to see something different and be part of the Mercy Ships mission of providing access to safe, timely healthcare.

Find out more and take the first steps on your journey to Africa with Mercy Ships. 

In the News

Leaving a sustainable dental care footprint

A unique perspective on providing sustainable dental care in Guinea, West Africa

Since 1978 the international hospital ship charity Mercy Ships has ‘hope and healing’ to the world’s forgotten poor by offering specialised surgeries, medical and dental training. Using the transportable platform of the 16,000 tonne Africa Mercy, the faith-based NGO spends 10 months at a time providing essential surgical and healthcare services to developing nations. The port city of Conakry was the hub of the NGO’s work for a fourth time, from August 2019 to June 2020.

“Mercy Ship runs on the goodwill of volunteers who give their time and skills to serve,” explains Dr Loo. “People from many nations, different cultures and languages all work together. It is a diverse community made up of incredible individuals. Many of these inspiring volunteers have dedicated years of their life away from home, foregoing a stable income and society’s mainstream definition of success.

“There were a number of factors that made practising dentistry vastly different than back home in New Zealand. The level of poverty, lack of education/awareness, lack of access to healthcare and medicine are a lot more significant in this part of the world. As a result we saw patients come in with enormous facial swellings that would have never been allowed to progress that far in New Zealand or another developed country.

“Due to the lack of access to antibiotics, dental abscess from an infected tooth could very well be a death sentence; a sad truth which is unheard of back home.

“Many of the patients with large untreated yet benign facial tumours had conditions which to developed large size, causing stigmatisation among their own community. They were inflicted with shame and some were outcast as a result.  These patients received free surgery on board the ship.

“Guinea is predominantly Muslim, with French widely spoken alongside a myriad of local languages. So during my days working at the dental clinic I would greet patients coming in or treatment in their local language of Fula, Onjarama (how are you?). I’ll never forget the delight on their faces when they heard the greeting in their own language.”

During the tour of duty in Guinea, parallel to patient care the Mercy Ships dental programme focused on empowering and enabling the local dental colleagues, a key way forward for the nation’s dental care system.

A CASE STUDY IN DENTAL SUSTAINABILITY – Dental Partner Unit Mentoring Programme

In addition to the Mercy Ships dental clinic which typically sees around 50 patients a day, a large dental project took place in partnership with Gamal Abdel Nasser University of Conakry.

Mentoring was provided over 10 months for thirteen dentists, dental school staff and a total of seventy-one dental students (45 men and 26 women).  The project included extensive renovations of the entire first floor of the dental school and the donation of the necessary dental equipment for the school to fully integrate clinical training into their curriculum for students.  The renovations and equipping allow the school to have an 8-chair student dental clinic, a 3-chair faculty dental clinic, a dental simulation lab, administrative offices for the dental school, and a dental laboratory.  To ensure that the equipment receives proper maintenance and repairs, our Biomedical Facilitator conducted an eight-day training course specifically for the donated equipment.

The medical capacity building courses sought to improve the sterile processing practices used by technicians in Guinea’s hospitals and clinics.  Twenty-two participants attended the Sterile Processing Course in Conakry.  Following the course, fifteen were selected for additional training-of-trainers in order to be better equipped to train others.

A nutritional agriculture course was conducted with 32 participants (26 men and 6 women) from five non-government organizations from seven regions of Guinea, who received train-the-trainer instruction in nutritionally based, biologically and ecologically sustainable agriculture.  The course included both classroom and hands-on instruction; training in food transformation and measures to respond effectively to climate change impacts on agricultural practice and output. After the 22 weeks of training, the new trainers returned home to set up their own agriculture training project.

The impact made in Guinea during that 10-month period included the training of 1,099 local participants in healthcare courses, the provision of more than 41,000 free dental procedures,  and 2,442 free essential surgeries in orthopaedic, maxilla-facial, burns and plastics, obstetric fistula, paediatric general and ophthalmic specialities.

Dr Loo’s most meaningful Mercy Ships experiences included some non-dental interactions outside the clinic. “During the weekends I had the opportunity to help at an orphanage; Hope Village. We spent the day making crafts, singing, dancing and sharing a meal with the children. I had opportunity to learn from the lady in charge of the orphanage who shared her experiences going through the recent Ebola crisis. It was heartbreaking to hear her account of the tragedy, and the loss of so many people. Their joy was inspiring despite the little they had and all they had endured in recent years. I was deeply impacted by her strength in overwhelming circumstances and her transparency in sharing her journey.’

Published with thanks to NZ Dental Association news, Dec 2019 

maritime, medical and general volunteer roles with Mercy Ships

In the News

 

IT specialists volunteering on board the Mercy Ship more than 30 years apart share their experiences providing information technology that allows this state of the art hospital to be fully functional in developing nation ports. Read the challenges faced as the team operate thousands of kilometres from the nearest available technology resources.

 

 

Read the story by Owen McCarthy in bizEDGE

 

 

 

 

The toughest tech you’ll ever love – find out more about volunteering in information services with Mercy Ships

 

 

In the News

Tradies onboard the Mercy Ship have a healthy sense of being part of the larger Mercy Ships team, knowing the free surgeries provided for the poor could not take place unless every crew member played their part, explains Otago man Edmund Rooke.

Until recently, Edmund Rooke from Waimate had never heard of the nation of Senegal. However, signing up as a volunteer for 20 weeks aboard the world’s largest civilian hospital ship finds him working behind the scenes as the Mercy Ships medical teams provide essential surgery and medical capacity building usually unavailable in this developing West African nation.

 

 

 

The 25-year-old is assisting the Mercy Ships tradies who volunteer onboard in the vessel’s technical departments; vital roles rarely associated in most people’s minds with a hospital ship.

‘I love that when I go to work, I know I am doing something that really matters and means something,’ Rooke explains. ‘I’m not working for money, and to be able to do a job that helps out in a higher cause can be immensely rewarding. My service with Mercy Ships gives me a chance to use the skills and abilities I have to make a difference.’

 

 

maritime, medical and general volunteer roles with Mercy Ships

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In the News

Dr Lapham with a participant from Guinea.

Consultant Anaesthetist Dr Hilary Lapham writes about her challenging and unique experiences providing training and support for anaesthesia providers in Guinea, West Africa. Anaesthesia mag Sept 2019 Hilary Lapham PDF

“My most recent role with Mercy Ship was on the Safe Surgery follow-up team. Over three weeks we travelled ‘upcountry’, away from the Ship Ship in the capital’s port, returning to Guinea’s remote regions visiting hospitals where the [Safe Surgery] courses had previously been conducted, explains Dr Lapham. The resources, including equipment and drugs, are very limited. Some hospitals do not have running water.”

 

In the News

SENEGAL WELCOMES MERCY SHIPS WITH OPEN ARMS

 

A handful of Kiwis were amongst the crew vigorously waving flags from the ship’s deck as the Africa Mercy arrived in Dakar, Senegal for the vessel’s first field service; the former flagship Anastasis served here in 1993. This nation 3/4 the size of New Zealand with 3 times our population. It is one of the most stable democracies in Africa with a long history of peacekeeping, but the population struggles at the lowest end of the UN Human Development Index which measures the quality of life.

 

Senegal borders The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Mauritania. Senegalese people are 96% Muslim, and speak French, Wolof and many other dialects (we need lots of translators!)

 

More than 40 New Zealanders will volunteers their skills and expertise in medical, maritime and operational roles in Senegal over the next 10 months, helping to provide essential surgery for the nation’s poor.

 

Mercy Ships is providing free surgeries in Senegal

Why Mercy Ships is in Senegal

The Senegalese people

  • Have 7 physicians per 100,000, compared to NZ’s 285 per 100,000
  • Live in multidimensional poverty at 164/189 in the  UN Human Development Index
  • Lose their children to infant mortality 10x more often than in NZ
  • Have a life expectancy of 60 (M) or 64 (F); 20 years less than Kiwis
  • Typically earn $2,700 per year

 

 

 

In the News

A passion for ships and a love for a good cause pointed former Commander Larry Robbins towards Mercy Ships, a charity dedicated to medical treatment in the world’s poorest countries. He talks to Navy Today about his work.

The Africa Mercy is the world's largest civilian hospital ship, and the maritime crew play a vital role in the delivery of healthcare services to Africa's poor
Larry Robbins served as navigation officer for the voyage from Tenerife to Brazziville, Republic of Congo

In 2009, when Larry Robbins was asked if he’d like to be on the board of Mercy Ships NZ, he didn’t have to think about it for long.

The retired naval officer and former Commanding Officer of HMNZS MONOWAI had been a long-time “modest” supporter of Mercy Ships, both during his 26-year naval career and after, as Chief Executive Officer of the New Zealand Maritime Museum.

Mercy Ships is a 40-year-old international charity that deploys hospital ships to countries where medical treatment is scarce. They deliver free healthcare services – including surgical treatment.

In 2005 Mr Robbins met Lord Ian McColl, a Vice-Chairman with Mercy Ships International, at the museum. His lordship, also a surgeon volunteer on hospital ships at the time, made a strong impression on him. Later, after retiring from the museum, Mr Robbins was invited to a MSNZ  function and met the Director of Mercy Ships New Zealand. They realised they had met before, in 1997 when MONOWAI was about to be decommissioned and Mercy Ships were eyeing up whether to bid to take her over. A short while after the function he was approached to join the board.

 

Each Mercy Ships volunteer crew member has a passion to serve the poor and uses their skills to help the hospital ship achieve that end
Larry Robbins greets Ebenezer, a maxillofacial patient

“I didn’t have to think about it very much,” says Mr Robbins. “My wife and I had been supporters, and I had met Lord McColl. He was such a lovely man. I

thought, if he’s the mark of the organisation, it’s worth belonging to.”

But three years in, he realised he was the only board member who hadn’t done a crew stint on MV Africa Mercy, the largest and newest ship in the Mercy Ships fleet, and the largest non-governmental floating hospital in the world. The ship spends 10 months a year in Africa, performing up to 2,000 surgeries. It is currently in Guinea; next year it will be in Senegal.

Mr Robbins had a Second Mate’s qualification, albeit 40 years out of date, courtesy of his time in the British Merchant Navy in the seventies. Fed up with unions, he had emigrated to New Zealand in 1974 to join the Royal New Zealand Navy, full of “the optimism of youth”, he says. “So I spoke to Maritime New Zealand and did some courses to get my second mate’s ticket revalidated.”

He ended up doing five tours of duty in Africa Mercy, with tours lasting for up to three months. In total, he’s done 13 months at sea over five years. He’s been Third Officer, Second Officer and – for five glorious weeks in the Canary Islands – second officer, acting Chief Officer, and acting Master. “It was great fun being a second officer, and using my navigation skills. It was a lot more fun than being in command would have been, to be honest.”

 

Mercy Ships operates the world's largest civilian hospital shipOfficers have single cabins or family quarters on board, and there’s even a fully accredited school for children. But Mr Robbins’ wife says: “Ships are your thing.”

It meant Mr Robbins got to see, first hand, how Mercy Ships changed lives in Africa.

“It’s amazing seeing the work they do,” he says. “With Africa Mercy, the hospital and ship are very much intertwined. So as a deck officer, you walk through the hospital on rounds, you see the patients, and you see the horrendous conditions they come from.”

In the Congo, he remembers a woman called Grace, who had a massive facial tumour. “We were in the Congo for four months, and she was our first patient on board. She was reasonably philosophical about her tumour, but came to have it treated. She had an operation, and they rebuilt her jaw. She just blossomed afterwards. It was just wonderful to see.

“It’s the difference they make in the lives of people, who have very little in the way of health care. There’s a flow-on effect to families. For instance, if a child can’t walk, the parents put a lot of time and effort into looking after that child. They can’t go out and earn a living. One family we met, the father had cataracts, and the child couldn’t go school because he had to look after his father. His father got his sight back, and the kid could go to school.”

Mr Robbins observes that in New Zealand hospitals, nursing staff come and go. “On Africa Mercy, nurses have got the time to get to know the patients, because the nurses are living on the ship. Everybody on the ship can adopt a patient. I would talk to them as I was doing my rounds.”

On one trip there were 34 nationalities among the crew, with 12 New Zealanders on board. “There’s a tremendous sense of community and equality. The captain and officers mix and mingle with everybody, and it’s communal dining.”

The hardest volunteers to recruit are those in the technical trades, he says. “And officers need to have a merchant qualification.”

Mr Robbins has just retired as board chair of Mercy Ships NZ, a role he had for three years. His Second Mate’s ticket expired last year, and he doesn’t intend to renew. But his involvement with the charity continues, with speaking tours. He’s qualified as a ship’s security officer and hopes to return to Africa Mercy in that capacity. “I just like ships,” he says.

 

As of last month, Mercy Ships has provided 100,000 free surgical procedures in 40 years of service. These include cleft lip and palate repairs, cataract removal, orthopaedic procedures, facial reconstruction and obstetric fistula repairs.

Each year, around 1,000 people from up to 40 nations, including New Zealand, volunteer their skills and expertise with Mercy Ships. Professionals like officers, seamen, engineers, surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, cooks, and teachers donate their time and skills to the effort.

Mercy Ships are always in need of maritime crew. Opportunities are both short term (a couple of months) through to long term for the senior and management roles.

BY ANDREW BONALLACK, PUBLISHED WITH PERMISSION FROM NAVY TODAY

Maritime and naval-trained volunteers help mercy Ships provide free essential surgery for Africa's poor

 

In the News

If you are looking for a change and a chance to pay it forward, working for a few months as a volunteer electrician, engineer or technician on the world’s largest civilian hospital ship in Africa could be just what you need, says Sharon Walls from Mercy Ships.

Mercy Ships is now recruiting for places like Senegal and Liberia where the faith-based charity will be delivering free, world-class healthcare services to needy people in the developing world.

Walls says volunteering on the Mercy Ship is an immensely rewarding experience building both career and character.

“We are looking for skilled, self-sufficient people who can adapt to the challenges of keeping our electrical systems working to support our medical teams in the life-saving operations they perform.”

Electronics technician, Filips Jansons from Allandale near Christchurch, completed a six-month tour recently where he volunteered on Africa Mercy in the electrical engineering department, while the hospital ship was docked in Guinea, West Africa.

He says volunteering on the ship has benefited him greatly and he liked living and working in the on-board community made up of people from different cultures and beliefs.

“We were are able to work alongside each other. I think that’s something you don’t get anywhere else, with such a broad spectrum of age and experience.”

Jansons says he had the opportunity to involve himself in many areas of the ship and work on a variety of systems, machines and equipment, ranging from auto fire detection systems, fuel purifiers, cranes, main distribution switchboards, medical air monitoring systems, many marine electronics, and much more.

“My days on the ship were never the same. As a technician back home, I would need to work for several different industries to gain that sort of experience.”

Filips Jansons, Electronics Technician, at work onboard the Mercy Ship

Over its 40 years of operation, Mercy Ships has performed more than 100,000 free, life-changing or life-saving surgical procedures such as cleft lip and palate repairs, cataract removal, orthopaedic procedures, facial reconstruction and obstetric fistula repairs. Services and materials valued at more than $2.33 billion have directly benefitted more than 2.71 million people in 70 nations.

Sharon Walls says each year, around 1,000 volunteers from up to 40 nations volunteer with Mercy Ships and are supported by 16 offices around the world, including Auckland.

Volunteers for Africa Mercy are volunteers in every sense of the word, raising funds or paying their own way to the African port, and $1000 per month for room and board on the ship. Walls says with everyone contributing to their own way of getting there, every cent donated helps provide essential surgical services for the poor.

Africa Mercy is a 16,000 tonne vessel about the size of a Cook Strait ferry. It has five operating theatres on board and five wards, along with consulting and treatment spaces. The ship generates all its own power and diagnostic equipment connects to experts around the world via satellite.

Walls says everyone works a 45-hour week with rostered time off. Mercy Ships has an immediate vacancy for electrical crew, and vacancies for two or three more in 2020.

From Electrolink magazine, reposted with permission

More about electrical and electronics roles on board Mercy Ships here 

Africa Mercy in the Port of Conakry, with members of Deck & Engineering on the bow.

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