One of the neat opportunities that came out of our Forward conference last year was the invitation to visit Mercy Ships, one of the most popular and inspirational speakers at our conference. A couple weeks ago, I joined a small group of people to visit the ship, which is currently docked in Toamasina, Madagascar.
If you weren’t at Forward or didn’t watch the video of their presentation, it’s on our YouTube channel and 60 Minutes also did a great piece on the organization.
We arrived on 2/8 at about noon and the schedule was jammed packed. We toured the ship from top to bottom, met many of the crew; doctors, patients, and even had the chance to observe a surgery. (I was nervous about passing out, but you’ll be happy to know I kept it together).
Beyond the humanitarian aspects of the ship, which are well captured in the videos and truly heartbreaking in person, I’m inspired by the entrepreneurial aspect of the organization and it’s a great reminder that anything is possible. Over the last 38 years, this organization figured out how to buy ships, turn them into hospitals, recruit doctors and crew, coordinate with countries to dock for months at a time, find patients, and provide life changing surgeries to hundreds of thousands of people. The scale of their operations, logistics, financing and governmental affairs is remarkable. With ideas, passion, and effort—anything is possible.
So you might ask, what was I doing there? That’s a great question. Partly, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. A chance to travel to another part of the world and experience an aspect of life I might otherwise not get a chance to see. Next, the cruise industry has been very good to FWI and I got to travel with some executives from the industry and help figure out how the industry at large (cruise companies, passengers, vendors) could support Mercy Ships. Twenty-four million people a year take a cruise. If every passenger donated $2, the annual operating budget for the organization would be paid for. And last, we’re donating our visual communications solution to Mercy Ships for their home office, trade show booth, and most importantly their new ship launching in 2018. I can’t wait to get our cruise team and healthcare team together to start planning for the new ship. There are probably 100 visual applications we can apply to improve communication, streamline surgical operations, and save paper—which is a big deal when all supplies are shipped in.
Stay tuned for parts 2, 3 and 4 of my Mercy Ships blog series!