A Birthday Gift Like No Other

Isaac’s decision to volunteer on the Africa Mercy® was a 40th birthday gift to himself. For this new decade, he wanted to find more ways to serve others.  

“I have been blessed and I want to give something back,” he said. 

Isaac, who hails from Ghana, has a wife and two children whom he calls his biggest achievements. He is also an architect, a project manager, a part-time lecturer, and a soon-to-be PhD student.  

So how did he find himself volunteering for three months as a housekeeper on a hospital ship? 

On the cusp of his birthday, he was looking for volunteering opportunities when a Mercy Ships advertisement popped up on TV.  

“They showed stories about the patients who had received surgeries on the ship. They were removing tumors and fixing bowed legs for free,” he shared. “These patients would not have afforded these surgeries otherwise. I decided that it was a cause I could support.”

He applied to volunteer as an operations project manager assistant on board the Africa Mercy.  That role had already been filled, but the team told him there was an opening in housekeeping. He said yes. In his eyes, “it wasn’t about the role, it was about volunteering. I didn’t mind it at all.” 

The Gift of Volunteering

In his role, Isaac is part of the team that ensures that the ship is clean and organized so others can be as efficient and productive as possible.  

“The first time I was on the ship, I was surprised that it stayed so clean yet there are over 300 crewmembers living on it,” he said. “I wondered how it wasn’t dirty.” 

He says it’s a role far removed from his work back home. But it’s affording him a unique opportunity to learn more about himself and other people.

“I meet new people every day while at work and their experiences are so different from mine,” Isaac shared. “Here, when you talk to people, you realize how much you don’t know. It’s been humbling.” 

His friends at home were unsure about his move to serve on a vessel docked in Senegal. They questioned what an architect would do on a hospital ship. He says there’s always something to do for other people, no matter your profession. In fact, Isaac is a long-term advocate for volunteering.  

“It’s a chance to build on the skills you already have for the benefit of others,” he says. 

For Isaac, the skills he is learning in his current role will carry over to his personal life as well.

“My wife is going to be so impressed with my deep cleaning skills,” he jokes.  

On a professional level, he says that witnessing the impact of the hospital ship on people in need who have nowhere else to turn has been inspiring.

“I have friends in the hospital ship, and it seems like almost every day they’ll tell me a story of a patient who has had a condition for years, couldn’t afford surgery and now they have gotten help here.”   

Pursuing an Education of Hope

Isaac is starting his Ph.D. research in sustainable and affordable housing for vulnerable communities in a few months. He hopes this work can be as meaningful as what happens on the hospital ship.  

“I see how Mercy Ships is bringing high-quality healthcare to Africans and I want to be able to do that with housing in Africa,” Isaac says.

Living on the ship, he is drawing parallels between the housing of crew on board and the kind of housing he would like to see those susceptible to homelessness access.  

“The way they utilize space here is impressive. Look at our cabins, the space is small and yet they’re set up in a way that we comfortably live in there,” he shared. “I think we can do that for houses in places where space is an issue.” 

Get Involved

Have you been looking for opportunities to make a difference? Mercy Ships offers many ways to get involved, whether you’re interested in giving, serving, or praying with us. Learn more at mercyships.org