Frequently Asked Questions
1. Difference between day crew and volunteers
Q. What does it mean to be a volunteer?
A. A volunteer is a professional who donates their time and money to serve on our hospital ships. You can volunteer to serve for varying durations starting at two weeks and up to year-long commitments. Volunteers contribute to the Mercy Ships mission by paying monthly crew fees, which are used to cover the volunteer’s room and board while on the ship, as well as other programmatic activities.
Find a volunteer role and apply by clicking here!
Q. What does it mean to be a day crew?
A. Mercy Ships day crew are a group of short-term employees hired to work on board in various roles while the ship is docked. We recruit nationals of the specific country we are visiting to serve as day crewmembers. Day crew are expected to work for the full duration the ship is in port, which is typically 10 months. Day crew opportunities are paid.
2. Where volunteers and day crew work
Q. Where do volunteers work?
A. If you join as a volunteer, you will serve on a Mercy Ships hospital vessel. This means that you will be required to move from your home country to live and work on board. Our hospital ships dock in different countries along the African coast, typically for 10 months at a time.
If you join as a day crewmember, you would work from your home country where the ship has docked. Day crew roles are only available for nationals of the country the ship is visiting.
Find a volunteer role and apply by clicking here!
3. About applications and serving
Q. When can I serve?
A. Once you have been accepted as a volunteer, your service time and commitment on a Mercy Ship depends on your schedule. You will need to decide when it makes sense to dedicate full-time service on board for the duration that is most convenient to you. You can serve anywhere from two weeks to a year or even longer. However, certain roles may require a specific time commitment.
When applying to volunteer, keep in mind that you don’t have to be available immediately. You can apply at any time and accept the offer at any time. We are thrilled to see that many of our volunteer crew have such a great time on board that they choose to extend their service duration.
Q. What happens to my application when I apply?
A. When you apply for your chosen role, your application will be assessed by our Human Resources team. Should you qualify, you will be given an offer to join as a volunteer. Should you accept the offer, your volunteer profile will be entered into our waiting list. From this list, you will be contacted to come and serve on specific dates. You can expect to be in the waiting list for anywhere from two weeks to several months, depending on the needs of the ships.
Q. I have a couple of weeks to spare. How long can I volunteer for?
A. Different volunteer roles have different commitment requirements. During the application, you will receive information on the commitment requirements for the role. For example, some positions ask for a two-week commitment, while others need someone who can commit to a year.
Q. Can I apply for a paid job, placement, or internship?
A. Mercy Ships provides paid jobs to day crew. Day crew opportunities become available 8 months for each ship per year, when the ship docks for medical support in an African country. Currently, Mercy Ships does not provide placement or internship roles. Young professionals often join Mercy Ships as volunteers during their gap year or as a way of giving back to society.
Q. Does Mercy Ships pay volunteers?
A. Mercy Ships works with volunteers to provide surgical care and medical training to people who need it most in Africa. In this respect, Mercy Ships relies on the generous donation of professionals who give their time and money to meet the mission of bringing hope and healing. Due to this, volunteers donate to Mercy Ships by paying monthly crew fees and by providing their professional services.
Q. How much does it cost to serve as a volunteer?
A. As a charity, Mercy Ships provides safe surgery and healthcare training for free. But of course, we cannot run our hospital ships for free. This is why our volunteers contribute towards the cost of keeping the lights on, having clean water, and feeding everyone. We call these crew fees. You can find the most recent figures on our website here. In addition to crew fees, volunteers also pay for their own travel to our host countries.
Q. Can I get financial support to volunteer?
A. We never want crew fees to be the reason one is not able to join us as a volunteer. Mercy Ships provides financial support to volunteers who need assistance with paying crew fees. To get financial support, you would need to apply.
Q. I am a seafarer – can I get sea time with Mercy Ships?
A. If you are a newly qualified Deck or Engine Officer, you may struggle to get sea time. Over the years, Mercy Ships has helped many seafarers get the sea time they need while they volunteer on board.
Q. Where do your volunteers come from?
A. The Mercy Ships volunteer crew comes from all over the world, with over 60 nations, backgrounds, and cultures represented on board. We would love to welcome you to the team and learn from your unique perspective and skills.
Q. What skills do I need to volunteer with Mercy Ships?
A. Half of the people needed on board are medical professionals. The other half come from various backgrounds including IT Service Desk Analysts, Teachers, HR Facilitators, Housekeeping Staff, Sales Staff, Accountants, Operations Managers, Deck & Engineering Officers, Carpenters, Plumbers, HVAC Engineers, and many, many more! Explore all our options here.