Alex Merlos Ruiz, Informations Services Manager
“I think volunteering offers opportunities to be a better professional, be a better person,” reflects the Brazilian-born adopted Kiwi.
Determined to invest his technical skills and IT career experience for good, Alex departed Invercargill bound for the most distant city on the globe – Antwerp Belgium, where he joined the Global Mercy crew in August 2021.
Why I volunteer with Mercy Ships.
After spending two years studying for a Masters in information technology at Southern Institute of Technology in Invercargill, Alex was searching for a meaningful cause to invest his experience and training in. He found it in a hospital ship charity, at a transitional moment.
Alex stood with other Mercy Ships volunteer crewmembers dockside in Belgium welcoming the recently launched 37,000 gross tonne Global Mercy into port. He had no idea that he would love the work so much that his 3-month volunteer commitment turned into 18 months dedicated to the cause.
IT on a hospital ship
Alex’s role is leading the informational technology; building and installing the IT systems to run the surgical hospital, and meeting the information technology and computer communication needs for 600 crew members’ work and personal lives on board.
In additional to the usual computer technology, this hospital ship will use training suites and simulator rooms with mannequins, and virtual and augmented reality, to help mentor and upskill partner healthcare workers while in field service in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s a technical tall-order!
A role-combo made in heaven
“Computer systems are vital for every department on board,” explains Alex, who intended to volunteer for six months, but loved it so much he extended his service by a year. “It’s not just a simple department that deals with computers and devices anymore. It is at the core of all business.
“My IT is a crucial role on board in this scenario because surgeries and everything relies on technology. We are involved in all roles on the ship from reception to the captain.”
Alex loves tech, and he loves people. He believes he has the best job on board because he gets to connect the Mercy Ships crew with the technology that helps them perform their roles with excellence and purpose. The advanced technology on board is key, but something the crew can find challenging.
“I can help people to do their jobs better, for Africa. We can help the clinical staff to have good performance so isn’t technology a barrier that can interfere in their work helping African patients. It’s amazing to give a contribution to this world, and at the same time have amazing experiences.”
New Mercies Podcast
Alex sums his role on the hospital ship up beautifully; “Mercy Ships is a community helping other communities. I joined amazing people trying to do their best to help people,”