What kinds of positions are available?
The complex nature of Mercy Ships projects and programs demand a wide range of skills. For a current list of positions available, please click here.
How long can I serve?
Mercy Ships provides opportunities to serve for various lengths of time, both in a shorter-term or longer-term capacities. Those wishing to serve for more than one field service must first successfully complete On Boarding Program (Foundations of Mercy Ships & Gateway). All positions have both minimum and
maximum commitment lengths.
Please note: A married person applying to serve without their spouse will only be accepted for a maximum of three (3) months.
What health or age restrictions apply?
We require all volunteers in good physical condition. All applicants are required to complete a medical history, physical evaluation, and Immunization Check List. Some pre-existing medical conditions (for example: insulin dependent diabetes, heart conditions, pregnancy, immune suppressed conditions, etc.) may disqualify service at some operating locations due to maritime regulations and availability of medical care. We require all volunteers to be at least 18 years old. There is no upper age limit for service.
Does Mercy Ships cater to special diets?
While we strive to prepare & serve healthy meals on board, we cannot cater to specific diets (i.e. gluten-free, vegan, celiac, etc.)
Are physically impaired people able to volunteer with Mercy Ships?
Due to the limited confines of a Mercy Ship and compliance with ship safety standards, it is not possible for physically disabled persons to volunteer on a Mercy Ship.
How much does it cost to serve with Mercy Ships?
Volunteers pay for their transportation to and from the ship’s location as well as crew fees and all personal expenses. Crew fees vary depending on the length of commitment as well as what nation the volunteer comes from.
Can Mercy Ships help me raise funds?
We have developed fundraising materials to help you communicate and raise funds to support your time with us. Additionally, depending on the position, need and availability of funding, we sometimes provide financial assistance to ensure continuity in critical positions. If interested, please indicate on your application that you would like assistance in fundraising.
How far in advance should I apply to volunteer with Mercy Ships?
If possible, applications should be sent in for processing at least 3 to 6 months in advance. For some positions and for some time periods, additional time is required.
What references are required to apply?
When applying to serve with Mercy Ships, three references are required; one from your pastor or spiritual leader, one from a friend, and one from your employer. If you are a medical professional, please use the “Medical Professional Reference Form
” in lieu of the Employer Reference.
Please note: If you are not able to provide an employer or pastor/spiritual leader reference, return the reference forms along with a note explaining why it is left blank. Submit a substitute reference from a person who has functioned in a supervisor/mentor or coach role for you.
Can I apply if I am not a Christian or currently not attending a church?
We regularly have non-Christians and/or those who are not currently a member of church apply to volunteer. Although the vast majority of our staff and volunteers are followers of Jesus, we will consider all applicants. At the discretion of the Managing Director, non-Christian volunteers may be accepted short-term, based on their skills and our needs.
However, all volunteers must have a lifestyle consistent with our Core Values and be willing to adhere to our Code of Conduct.
Can married couples with/without children serve onboard?
Housing for couples and families is very limited and is reserved for longer-term crew and/or critical positions. A final decision on couples housing may be delayed until 2 months prior to the time of service. Family housing is reserved for long-term crew where one spouse is filling a critical position.
Can single parent families volunteer to serve onboard?
The ship is very limited in the number of family cabins available and therefore they must be allocated to crew that can work full-time in a critical operational position on board. When we accept any family unit, we expect one of the parents to work full-time while the other parent’s main responsibility (due in a large part to safety issues) would be to take care/watch after their children when they are not in school. This would not work in the case of the single-parent family, as their time would have to be split between their parental and shipboard duties and therefore not allowing the crew member to work full-time.
Is it safe to live on board the Africa Mercy in West & Central African nations? What security measures are in place?
Mercy Ships holds the security of its crew, which includes volunteers from some thirty to forty nations, in highest priority. Mercy Ships does not serve in conflict areas, although it has served in post-conflict venues, such as Sierra Leone and Liberia, after the cessation of hostilities. Our security protocol is developed from assessments conducted by our Advance Team as well as input from various embassies and government officials. Mercy Ships employs 6 full-time Gurkha security guards, supervised by our own Ship Security Officer. There are trained security personnel on duty 24/7. While a Mercy Ship vessel is always prepared to cast off in an emergency situation, none has been required to do so in its thirty-five year history.
Prior to the vessel arriving in a developing nation for a field service period, an Advance Team conducts a security assessment, and findings are provided to the CSO for consideration in advanced security planning. Such assessments are based on input from different governments with embassies in-country, input from NGO and multilateral agencies, and on-the-ground surveys. When the ship is in a developing nation for a ten-month field service period, a working relationship is established with the Regional Security Officer, usually an individual on the US Embassy staff, as well as other relevant contacts. The local security situation is carefully monitored and security protocols are put in place as necessary. At times a host nation may experience varying degrees of political and ethnic tension, requiring such protocols as avoiding certain routes or areas, or otherwise ensuring the safety of crew and patients, and the uninterrupted delivery of services.
Mercy Ships complies with the International Ship & Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) and has a regulatory approved Ship Security Plan (SSP) for its vessel, Africa Mercy
. Mercy Ships Company Security Officer (CSO) is responsible for compliance and administration oversight of the approved SSP. The CSO or his designate is available 24/7 to respond to any incidents identified by the ship’s master.
In accordance with the signed protocol with a host nation, its government is responsible for providing port security:
5.7.2 Security. The [HOST NATION] and Port Authority, pursuant to International Ship and Port Security Code, shall provide adequate security arrangements for the vessel and the crew at all times. All security measures shall be provided by and paid for by the [HOST NATION].
This security covers the entrance of the port to the gangway of the ship, and may involve one or more control points/perimeters. Most ports visited are in compliance with ISPS codes.
Mercy Ships contracts with British Gurkha Overseas Service (BGOS) for the provision of qualified security guards that control access to a hospital ship. There are six Ship Security Guards onboard, supervised by a Ship Security Officer (SSO). The SSO maintains appropriate liaison with local security forces of each country the ship visits.
A Mercy Ship sails much less than most commercial vessels, with some 20 days a year at sea. Mercy Ships closely monitors multiple streams of information regarding risk areas at and plans its routes carefully. It maintains best practices when sailing and maintains anti-piracy protocols and equipment. Security incidents in its service region have occurred predominantly with commercial vessels anchored or moored offshore, and have primarily involved oil cargoes.
Is proficiency in English required in Mercy Ships?
Yes. English proficiency is required for all positions in Mercy Ships, and fluency is required for some positions.
Is a foreign language required to serve in Mercy Ships?
No. However a working knowledge of French is very beneficial for several countries in which we serve.
If I serve on one of the ships, will I be working with the local people?
All of our volunteers work with the local people to some degree. Some (for example, those who serve in the hospital) will likely have more direct contact, but there are opportunities throughout the week made available for crew to participate in during their time off from work. These include visits to prisons, orphanages & program sites as well as working with the 100 or so local Day Workers who work on board during the field service.
What do crew do after work?
After work, crew often get together for fellowship and fun. This may include going out for dinner or dessert, playing board games in one of many lounges or on one of the decks, watching a video, or attending an informal Bible study/prayer meeting. Others use the time after work to email friends, write home, practice music or get involved with the many Mercy Ministry opportunities conducted off the ship.
Where does the ship pick me up?
This is a common question – all volunteers actually fly to the ship’s location (usually in West Africa) and join the ship there. Sailing isn’t involved unless your service dates are in line with the sail from the field service location to the maintenance location, or from the maintenance location to the field service location.
What does the ship’s schedule typically look like?
Typically, the Africa Mercy
will be docked in a West African country for around 10 months out of the year involved in active field service. During the months of June-August, the ship undergoes maintenance and repairs. During these months, the Hospital is closed, though we do still staff non-medical positions. Please click here
for a more detailed schedule.
Where can I get more information about volunteering with Mercy Ships?
To obtain more information about volunteering with Mercy Ships, we suggest you attend a Foundations of Mercy Ships (FMS) program at the International Operations Center (IOC) in Texas, which is offered 3-4 times per year.
In addition, we offer an Introduction to Mercy Ships-Europe program in Holland twice a year for our European applicants.
Please click here
for more information regarding training opportunities.
How do I apply?
Applications for service with Mercy Ships are accepted year-round. Processing usually takes 2-6 weeks. Everything you need to know about applying for a Mercy Ships volunteer position can be found here