When Milo Falsing was a child, he would travel on a ferry, the Dronning Ingrid, to visit his grandparents. After he learned it was going to stop sailing, he wrote a letter to the ferry company asking for one last ride. Today, Milo is the captain of that very ship which is now called the Africa Mercy — a hospital ship that helps volunteers provide free surgery and training to the countries it serves.
On May 31, 1997, the Danish ferry the Dronning Ingrid stopped running, as a tunnel from the cities of Koersoer to Sproege made ferries obsolete. That was a very sad day for 11-year-old Milan (also known as Milo) Falsing who cried for several days after the announcement was made.
Born and raised in the small town of Hoeng in Denmark, Milo had traveled with his family on the ferry many times to visit family members in other parts of Denmark.
“It was always a special occasion for me and my sister,” he said. “On the starboard side forward, there was a play area for children.”
Milo had many happy memories onboard the ferry, and he was brokenhearted to think there would be no more. His concerned mother contacted the ferry’s owner and asked if Milo and his siblings could visit the ferry one last time to say farewell. The vice president granted the request.
“When my mother gave me the good news, I was all jumpy and so happy,” he said.
When the day arrived, Milo and his family were given a tour of the ferry, and he and his siblings were able to enjoy one last time in the play area.
“I spent the day with the captain watching him work, and that was the day I decided to become a seafarer,” Milo said. “I always aimed to come back as a captain and knew that this was the place for me.”
In the ninth grade, he began to prepare for his life at sea by choosing to go to a boarding school with a maritime focus. From there he went to the maritime high school, where he could get a seaman’s degree that would allow him to find a position on a ship.
As he continued his education, Milo kept his interest in the Dronning Ingrid alive. When Mercy Ships bought the ferry in 1999, it was moved to Newcastle in the United Kingdom, to be renovated to become the hospital ship, the Africa Mercy.
“I had never heard of Mercy Ships before and wondered what they were,” he said. “What would a religious group want with a ferry? We didn’t know what God was doing with the Dronning Ingrid.”
Milo’s interest was piqued as he followed the progress of the renovation. After seven years of renovations, he saw the ferry again — now a state-of-the-art hospital ship. As soon as he graduated in 2010, Milo started looking for an opportunity to serve onboard.
“Finally seeing my dream of being captain onboard this ship come true was breathtaking,” Milo said. “It’s been an incredible journey — to go from having an ambition to eventually being here and being a part of it.”
In 2011 he served onboard the Africa Mercy at the age of 32, making him the youngest captain to serve onboard the ship as well as the first Scandinavian captain to serve in Mercy Ships history. He returned in 2015 to serve a short period and again for two months in 2019.
“The ferry I knew as a child and the ship I know now, they have a similar feeling. The ferry was bringing people from one place to another — it was a small journey, but it meant something,” he said. “There are still journeys happening on the Africa Mercy — this ship is now bringing people from somewhere they don’t want to be, to somewhere they’ve dreamed of. It meant something then, and it means something now. That rush of going up the gangway, the feeling of stepping onto a big ship — I get the same feeling now as I did when I was a little boy!”