‘We’re All Humans’: Building Bridges on the Global Mercy®

Achi Kushnir had a revelation while taking some time off to volunteer with Mercy Ships.

“I was contemplating a lot about my path so far and where I want to go from here,” he said. “I don’t want this to be a sabbatical year; I want this to be my real path from now onwards.”

Achi decided to serve on board the Global Mercy® as a biomedical technician after working for the last 15 years in medical engineering. He heard about Mercy Ships from a client who had volunteered on board. Just like his client, who served as a surgeon, Achi had a skillset that was desperately needed on the hospital ship.

“In the past five years, I’ve been working in the medical device industry, mainly training doctors in operating theaters how to use innovative technology from Israel to treat glaucoma,” he said.

Achi initially came on board for two weeks in January 2022, when the Global Mercy was in Belgium. The experience exceeded his expectations. In February, he traveled to Ukraine to offer his services there, but soon he was back on board the Global Mercy for a longer three-month commitment.

‘More in Common than Apart’

Although Mercy Ships is a Christian organization, it accepts volunteers from all backgrounds. Achi is the first practicing Jew to serve on the Global Mercy.

“It’s a great honor, and I’ve been really so well received here,” he said.

Achi said he was “very emotional” when he arrived, thanks to the warm and sincere welcome he received from this crew of different faiths.

His fellow crewmembers have been especially interested in his Israeli roots. Achi is fluent in Hebrew, and he used that skill to give the crew a gift: he read original Biblical passages aloud during Easter events.

Just like his diverse group of colleagues, Achi was drawn to Mercy Ships and the brand-new Global Mercy by a shared mission.

“Its focus is to help and serve others and make an impact and a difference in people’s lives,” he said. “This is something very unique, and I’m very proud to be part of this.”

An Exciting Time on Board

During this historic moment in Mercy Ships history, Achi has been impressed by the community he’s found on board the Global Mercy. He feels that his new colleagues and housemates are making him a better person.

“It’s really inspiring and empowering to be surrounded by so many people that have risked a lot and sacrificed to come here,” he said. “They have a goal and a pure mission to help others.”

Achi’s community includes everyone from the hospital to housekeeping to reception.

“Having all these conversations and getting to know these people definitely changes you in a lot of ways,” he said.

Achi serves in the hospital as a biomedical engineer. Even with his background in the profession, serving on the world’s largest civilian hospital ship is a new experience.

“There are so many challenges and other aspects involved because it’s a ship,” he said. “Making sure that all the equipment is good to go, tested, installing it, thinking about the maintenance that it will need to have — these are all aspects that I’m focusing on.”

Achi rejoined the ship in the Canary Islands and was on her first sail to Africa for a formal inauguration in Senegal. The new vessel will double the organization’s capacity for hope and healing and is expected to facilitate more than 150,000 surgeries over her 50-year lifespan.

Biomedical engineers, like many other technical positions on board, are often a critical need. Without vital roles like this one, Mercy Ships would not be able to continue bringing hope and healing to those who need it most. If you or someone you know is interested in sharing your professional and personal skills, learn more today.