Creating Sweet Memories Onboard a Mercy Ship

Onboard the Africa Mercy®, Simon Guimbaud is best known for one thing — his delicious French pastries.

Back home in France, Simon is a business school student. It’s where he first heard about Mercy Ships, during a class presentation. The combination of humanitarian work and ships caught Simon’s attention, so he seized the upcoming four-month school break to volunteer. But he didn’t sign up to volunteer with baked goods in mind. He just wanted to help further the mission of Mercy Ships, in whatever way he could.

“I thought the work of the organization was great,” he shared. “I looked at what I could do… and that was cooking.”

So, Simon packed his bags and climbed on board, sharing his skills in the galley and preparing food for hundreds of volunteers.

He knew a thing or two about pastries and soon started preparing mouth-watering desserts for the crew. People would tell him how much they appreciated his infusion of creativity into the menu.

“I would make desserts and then go downstairs and serve them and see the smiles on people’s faces,” he said. “It’s a real pleasure when you give yourself and your energy and you get feedback like that.”

But Simon didn’t work alone. A galley team is a tight-knit unit that coordinates closely with other departments. This usually means the serving team and the food suppliers, but for Simon, it also meant the carpenter and the plumber.

“One day I was baking, and I wanted to make a special display because it was Sunday. I went to see the carpenter to ask him to build a gantry so I could display my pastries,” he said. “Another time, I went to the plumber to get pipes to create different shapes in chocolate — obviously it was disinfected!”

Outside of work hours, Simon was always on the lookout for creative ways to use his skills and serve the crew. He used his free time to bake, introducing the crew and friends to even more elaborate types of French pastries. Soon, he was known by the entire community as the pastry maker.

Looking back on his experience, Simon summed it up in a few simple words: “It feels like home.” And to all the crew who got a taste of Simon’s delicious baking, the ship became more like home as well.

To anyone considering joining the volunteer professionals who serve on board a Mercy Ship, Simon says, “Go for it! Everything you give to this community; it will give back to you.”

As Mercy Ships prepares to double the fleet and double the impact in Africa, there’s a greater need for volunteers than ever before. Whether you’re a baker with a musical gift, an IT professional with a passion for connectivity, or a mariner who wants to serve alongside their family, Mercy Ships needs all of you.

Ready to make your mark? There is a place for you onboard. Discover all the details at mercyships.org/makeyourmark