How far in advance should I apply to volunteer with Mercy Ships?

If possible, applications should be sent in for processing at least 3-6 months in advance. For some positions and for some time periods, additional time is required.

Where does the ship pick me up?

All volunteers 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 next field service location.

What language(s) am I required to know?

Yes. English proficiency is required for all positions in Mercy Ships, and fluency is required for some positions. In addition, a working knowledge of French is very beneficial for several countries in which we serve, and may be required for some positions.

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. (Click here for more information and to see a sample budget.)

How long can I serve?

Mercy Ships provides opportunities to serve for various lengths of time, both in shorter-term or longer-term capacities. Those wishing to serve for more than twelve (12) months 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.)

Who is Mercy Ships?

Mercy Ships is a global charity that was founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens. Since that time, Mercy Ships has performed services valued at more than $1 billion, impacting more than 2.48 million of the world’s most desperate people. We have completed more than 581 port visits in 57 nations.

We use hospital ships to transform lives and serve nations one at a time. A ship is the most efficient platform to deliver a state-of-the-art-hospital to regions where clean water, electricity, medical facilities and skilled personnel is limited to nonexistent. And because more than 50% of the world’s population lives within 100 miles of a port city, a hospital ship can reach many people who need care.

How many ships are currently in operation?

Mercy Ships has had between 1 and 3 ships in service at any given time. Currently, the Africa Mercy is the only Mercy Ship in service, but it has a greater capacity than all prior hospital ships combined. Since the deployment of the Africa Mercy, the Board of Directors of Mercy Ships has been committed to adding another ship to the fleet, and they are actively pursuing this objective.

How many volunteers and crew are there on board a medical ship?

The Africa Mercy has meeting and work spaces as well as berths for an average crew of 400. This includes 26 family cabins, 25 couples/2-berth cabins, and an assortment of 1,2,3, and 4-berth cabins.

How does Mercy Ships choose where to go?

There are a number of factors that influence the selection of the next country for a field service. Mercy Ships is committed to serving countries in the lower third of the UN Human Development Index. Also, Mercy Ships must be invited to serve in a country, and the government must agree to full participation with us.

Is all care provided on board the ship?

In addition to the surgeries performed onboard, ship-based teams also serve in local areas providing a wide array of services to increase health and well-being, including dental clinics, community health education and agriculture projects.

Where does my donation go?

Your donation has a huge impact in helping children and adults suffering from facial tumors, cleft lips, blindness, club feet, and more. In fact, your gift multiplies in value thanks to our dedicated volunteers—who donate their time and pay their own way—and thanks to  donations from generous corporate partners.

How else can I help?

Give—your gift will transform a life! Volunteer—Experience the blessing of serving the world’s forgotten poor, on a hospital ship in Africa, with volunteers from over 40 nations. We need both medical and non-medical volunteers. Pray—Spend time in prayer for those we serve and the mission God has put on our hearts.