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  • Jordan Avery

Bringing Joy to the World. What, and who, are the Mercy Ships?

Updated: Sep 23, 2021

Most people have never heard of the Mercy Ships. Which is understandable. If it weren't for my Grandma I wouldn't have known about them either. Now that I do, it is truly an amazing legacy.

The organization was founded in 1978 as a way to provide humanitarian aid to those in need of it. The very first ship was found in a scrap yard wasting away. It was purchased and fixed up into the Anastasis. It was the first of its kind. A cruise ship turned into a floating non-governmental hospital. This is where the legacy begins. In order to operate the vessel at its fullest extent, an average of 350 people from over 30 nations went aboard to do their part. My grandma was among them. There were a vast range of jobs on the ship ranging from engineering crews, to man the ship itself, to housekeeping, to ensure the people, crew and patients were all taken care of. With everything staffed up they took on their mission:

to bring hope and healing to those who have limited access to healthcare.

The Anastasis performed over 18,800 surgeries, treated more than 88,600 people at village clinics, performed as many as 137,000 dental treatments, completed more than 540 construction and agriculture projects, and taught around 59,700 locals basic healthcare treatments. All of which was done at 275 ports globally costing around $278 million dollars in the 29 years that it was operational. I would say the Anastasis was a major success their humanitarian mission. It's no wonder that they continued fighting for the cause by bringing two more ships into the mix. First was the Caribbean Mercy which finished restoration and reconfiguration in 1994. The two ships worked together to cover more of the globe with hope and healing until 2007 when they both were retired to make way for the largest ship thus far; the Africa Mercy.

This is the ship I will be serving on (Hopefully). Fourteen years after its initial launch, this massive ship's main target is Africa (if you couldn't already guess that from its title). Did you know that five billion people do not have access to safe surgery in sub-Saharan African countries? Or that 85% of all children need surgical care before their 15th birthday? This crisis is that target for the Africa Mercy. The need is there and people are lining up around the world to be apart of addressing this cry for help. Each year there are thousands of people lining up to serve on the Africa Mercy. According to the Mercy Ships website, there are roughly 1,300 people from 50 nations serving on the ship annually, and 474 people serving at any given time. I highly recommend checking out their opportunities and apply to serve! Even if they don't have room for you at the moment you are added to the talent pool and directed to the my mercy community. This was the first place I was directed to while I wait for my time to serve and let me tell you...this is an amazing place. Not only are there others who are waiting for their acceptance, but also there are those sharing their experiences aboard. This whole organization and community is filled to the brim with people who are passionate about the people in the world. Bringing humanitarian aid to remote places in sub-Saharan African countries allows hope and joy to flourish. To learn more about the Mercy Ships click here to reach out to a member for more information.

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