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HR on board our hospital ships supports our crew

Human Resources teams on board our hospital ships serve volunteers from Aotearoa and across the globe, who are sharing their skills, training and experience to change the future for the vulnerable. The HR team on board each ship looks after all crew arriving and departing, living and working, extending commitments and transferring departments, forth over 1,200 crew annually from over 40 different nations on each of the hospital ships Africa Mercy and Global Mercy located in Africa.

Our volunteers in medical, maritime and general roles work together to make essential surgical services and healthcare training available in African nations – where it’s simply out of reach for most. Did you know 93% of people in Sub-Saharan African don’t have access to safe surgery when they need it? That’s where the Mercy Ships hospital ship communities come in.

It ‘takes a village’ to provide a child a life-changing surgery. A surgeon can’t operate without a nurse, the nurse can’t work if the electrician doesn’t keep the lights functioning. The sparky won’t work on an empty stomach. The cook preparing the crew meals is as valued onboard Mercy Ships as the surgeon performing the operation. And no one would be there at all if not for the HR teams working to bring them all together for one purpose – to serve sub-Saharan Africa’s poor.

We know it takes a big whānau to make mercy happen

Africa Mercy crew

Our general, medical and technical volunteers use their life skills, career experience and specialised training to help make a life-transforming difference for people in Africa in enormous need.

The volunteer Human Resources team on board our hospital ships looks after all crew arriving and departing, living and working, extending commitments and transferring departments. With over 2,000 huge-hearted volunteer crew annually filling roles from over 40 different nations, these roles are full of variety and satisfaction!

HR role details

The scope of work includes proactively guiding and supporting the crew through their service onboard in all areas of HR processes, career planning, and professional development – ensuring our crew is happy and set up for success in their volunteer journey.

Minimum volunteer period: 12 months

Requirements: University degree + 2 years full-time, postgraduate employment experience, or equivalent combination of the two, and the completion of a one-month orientation programme.

Human Resource team opportunities on board

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HR Facilitator

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 12 months

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Asst HR Director

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 12 months

This position may qualify for family accommodation on board

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HR Director

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 2 years

This position may qualify for family accommodation on board


Preferred Minimum Commitment: 3 mths – 2 years


Approx. half of the crew volunteer short term for one-to-ten months. Over the course of a field service, several people may fill one role (or bed space).

At any one time, the Global Mercy has a crew of 640, including about 25 families,and the Africa Mercy has a crew of 460, including about 20 families.

Generally speaking, the HR team works 8am -5pm, Monday to Friday from their offices on board the ship. After hours and weekend are free, although some work may be assigned as needed. 

Every 6 weeks there is a long weekend holiday applied to all crew, and all volunteers acrew leave during their service.

The onboard HR team fits into the Mercy Ships International HR plan for the duration of the time the volunteers are on board.

The recruitment process is carried out by National Offices in countries across the world, and all applications are processed online by Mercy Ships international HR based in Texas. After service care is provided by the volunteer’s National Office HR team.

All crew members are required to have fluency in English. French is widely spoken in sub-Saharan Africa, and is of great advantage although not required.  

Local dialect translators are available if required. 

  • A married person can serve up to three months without their spouse. 
  • Due to the physically demanding nature of the work on board our hospital ships, passing a physical is key part of the application process. For specific details on common medical reasons for exclusion like elevated blood pressure or BMI, please click here


Mercy Ships is an international humanitarian organisation based on Christian values. Our mission is to improve access to health care in low-income nations. 

By deploying the world’s two largest non-governmental hospital ships, the Africa Mercy and the Global Mercy, Mercy Ships works with host countries to help them improve their health care systems.

Each year, more than 1,200 volunteers from over 60 nations donate their time and resources to support the Mercy Ships vision.

Mercy Ships’ surgical specialties include maxillofacialplastic reconstructiveorthopaedic, ophthalmic, general, and gynecological (obstetric fistula) surgery.

Simultaneously, we provide training and mentoring to upskill local health professionals, strengthening the host nation’s health care capacity. 

I love talking to people about finding their fit on board, and I’m here to answer your questions about volunteering.