Mercy Ships: A look behind the scenes

November 10, 2020

We are honoured to support the lifesaving work of Mercy Ships and we would like to do our part in raising awareness about the organisation's work. The following, is our (virtual) interview with Mercy Ships Vice President of Operations, Justin Ray, PE:

Please tell us about Mercy Ships and your work with the organisation:
Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services, capacity building, and sustainable development to those with limited access in the developing world. Since 1978, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 55 developing countries, providing services valued at more than $1.7 billion and treating more than 2.8 million direct beneficiaries. Programs offer holistic support to countries striving to make healthcare accessible for all, including life-changing or life-saving surgeries, educational healthcare training and infrastructural and agricultural development to train people how to produce nutritional food and crops sustainably.
Mercyships interview 1

For the past 30 years, Mercy Ships has concentrated its efforts in Africa. During those three decades, Mercy Ships worked together with countries in West and Central Africa to develop more robust healthcare systems through enhancing skills and training along with infrastructure improvements.

I’ve worked with Mercy Ships for the majority of my career. I spent about 5 years working onboard as an engineering officer, and the rest of the time ashore as a project engineer, then safety manager, then technical superintendent, and currently vice president of operations. Working onboard was a lot of fun and very directly rewarding. Working ashore has been great, too, but requires a different focus: on ship it was easy to see how I was serving the patients that we were helping. From the office, I have to focus on serving the crew who are serving the patients. Knowing the impact and the heart that our crew have for the patients makes this work of supporting crew very rewarding.
 Mercyships interview 2
What brought you into contact with Mercy Ships?
I heard about Mercy Ships when I was in college at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. I volunteered with Mercy Ships for a year and a half after graduation.

What is a typical week like for you? When you travel for work, how long are you away?
Like most of the world, I’m working from home a lot these days. Before the COVID-19 Pandemic, I travelled for about a week or two every other month or so. My travel was usually either to our ship in operation, the Africa Mercy in West or Central Africa or to our ship under construction, the Global Mercy in China.

What about your work gives you the most satisfaction?
Watching the blind see and the lame walk. There are few more profound moments I have witnessed than seeing the joy and hope in the eyes of a person with a reality-defining ailment realize that they are not defined by that ailment.

Mercyships interview 3

Many of the patients you and Mercy Ships care for have serious injuries and health conditions. How do you prevent this aspect of your work from becoming emotionally overwhelming?
For me, the key to this is to look past the ailments and disfigurements and see the person. The resilience and determination of these individuals truly overwhelms the ailments and disfigurements as you get to know them.
 
How did you find out about Scandia?
I really don’t remember. Scandia has just been synonymous with marine workwear and PPE for as long as I can remember.

Mercyships interview 4

What has been your experience, so far, with what we make and what we do?

I really enjoy the sense of professionalism that I get seeing our crew in Scandia work wear. I know that we are providing them with comfortable, high quality work wear that honors their commitment to our mission.