Making Friends For Life

Growing up in the sea faring community of South Shields, Wales, Simon Purvis wanted to pursue a career in the merchant navy. He was also eager to travel and see the world. However, he never thought that those aspirations would bring him to Mercy Ships.

“I was nearly qualified as a deck officer and all my friends were excited about getting paid and making money and I wasn’t excited about that; it didn’t appeal to me. I started asking myself why I was doing this. It was at that point that God called me to Mercy Ships.”

Simon has served as the Africa Mercy’s second officer on and off for two years, first joining the ship in January 2014 while it was docked in Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo.  He shares that although his role is not directly connected to the mission it is just as valuable and important. “At the end of the day without the deck officers you can’t run the ship, it’s a merchant navy vessel before it’s a hospital ship.”

Simon shares that his duties aboard ship are just as important to him as is connecting with patients down in the hospital. He says that he was particularly connected to Mioty from the 2014-2015 Madagascar field service, who suffered from a case of noma and spent a few months aboard the ship healing. “I bonded with her and I’ve seen why she was so loved and why she is so fun to be around. It gets addictive to go down there and be around the kids. I’ve never visited the hospital and left not feeling refreshed and full of joy.”

If anyone doubts travelling and serving in Africa, Simon suggests that you just do it because it will change your life, and Mercy Ships is as unique as any place he has experienced. 

“It’s wonderful because it’s so accessible to people. You can do wonderful work and it’s quite easy in many ways to come and serve, and they also make it easy for others to participate with you and serve. Here, you make friends for life.”