United as One: Journey to the Africa Mercy

Posted on October 14, 2019 /

Serving onboard the Africa Mercy is similar to living in a small city! Our crew consists of volunteers from many different backgrounds (over 56 nations worldwide), all coming together to meet a common goal — serving those in need in sub-Saharan Africa!

For Mirjam Hamer and Ruben Plomp, the ship became a place to call home for four years after they decided to leave the Netherlands in order to serve with Mercy Ships. The journey to the ship began early for Ruben, who had the chance to visit the Anastasis (the original Mercy Ship) when he was eight years old.

“I was able to go to an open house onboard the Anastasis and visit the operating room,” he said. “It was a really great experience, and it really stuck with me.”

Ruben went on to pursue a career in the medical field, working as a nurse. His wife Mirjam also served in the medical field as a Pediatric ICU nurse for many years before both decided to embark on the adventure that would change their lives.

“I think we just both had a desire that we wanted to do something with the education that we had and wanted to give back to society,” Mirjam said. “But we felt that it was needed more in Africa than in the Netherlands. That’s why we decided to look into different ways we could serve.”

The two researched many different organizations for the right fit for their goals and decided to serve onboard the Africa Mercy for one field service, both working in the medical ward in the African country of Guinea. One field service soon turned into two, and before long, the couple had spent four years onboard the ship.

“I think it’s really cool that as a couple, you’re working for the same organization and towards the same aim, which is helping the poor of Africa,” Mirjam said. “I really enjoy that joined purpose in life!”

This feeling of unity in purpose was felt throughout the ship, a city full of different people all joined together to bring hope and healing to those in need.

“We were always so encouraged by how motivated everyone was because everyone was there for the same purpose,” Mirjam said. “I always say that this is what God intended church to be like. It’s not about going to a church service every Sunday, but it’s about doing life together. God has given those people at that time to you, and you do good things together. You share all of the good that happens, but also the hard stuff. It was what I really enjoyed about being on the ship.”

Ruben and Mirjam joined Mercy Ships after five years of marriage and spent the next four years working as a team to pursue their dream of making a difference. Now, the driven couple work for Mercy Ships in the Netherland’s office with Ruben joining the communications team and Mirjam utilizing her Masters in Global Health in the international programs department.

“If you’re thinking about joining, you absolutely should,” Ruben said. “It’s a unique experience, but it can be so impactful! It will change you forever.”