Since 2002, upon UNESCO’s adoption of the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, May 21 has been celebrated as World Day for Cultural Diversity. Culture is a basis of identity — physical, social, mental, and spiritual — for groups and individuals worldwide. No matter how strong, subtle, or unique, two things are for sure culture is everywhere, and it makes us who we are.

In its section on “Human rights as guarantees of cultural diversity,” the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity says:

The defense of cultural diversity is an ethical imperative, inseparable from respect for human dignity. It implies a commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular, the rights of persons belonging to minorities and those of indigenous peoples…

Cultural diversity widens the range of options for everyone.”

It is fortunate for us here at Mercy Ships that culture is transportable — meaning, when our crewmembers join us from their nations around the world, they bring their unique and special cultures with them! Here are just a few stats about the Mercy Ships family that we’re proud of:

– We have crew from six continents and over 50 nations. (You can learn more about our crew demographic here.)

– We have served patients in over 30 nations.

– We have 16 National Offices around the world. 

Who We Are: Loving and Serving Others 

Respecting diversity and difference is invaluable to our organization – in fact, we think it’s so important, we built “love and serve others” into our Core Values. All four Values are listed below.

Desiring to follow the model of Jesus, we seek to:

– love God.

– love and serve others. 

– be people of integrity.

– strive for excellence in all we say and do.

We see diversity as a reflection of who we are as an organization and a reflection of God’s kingdom. And that is a beautiful thing!

Why Volunteer? 

Why serve with Mercy Ships? The common threads of motivation that weave through our crew are the opportunity to work with people from around the world and to “work with a purpose.” With these motivations, our crewmembers volunteer their skills and time to bring hope and healing and make invaluable connections with friends from around the world at the same time. As a videographer crewmember once wrote, volunteering for Mercy Ships made her feel “wrecked for the ordinary,” after her time onboard. When shared and celebrated, culture is a beautiful avenue for empathy, connection, and understanding.

Many Nations. One mission. 

It is difficult to select only a handful of stories or photos to represent the unique group of crew, patients, and staff who make up our Mercy Ships family worldwide. Every blog with a patient’s story is a celebration, and every crew volunteer feature is an affirmation of the unique and special people and stories that make our mission possible.

On this World Day of Cultural Diversity, let’s work to honor and celebrate the cultural diversity that “widens the range of options for everyone.” New experiences and concepts may seem foreign to us at first but may grow familiar – and even loved – when shared. It’s only together that we can bring hope and healing, and we are better together!

To learn more about how you can get involved with Mercy Ships, learn more at MercyShips.org/get-involved