Fundraising from fixtures is vital for Mercy Ships to return to its mission bringing medical aid to Africa with its first custom-built hospital ship

More than $3m raised from cargo commissions has helped many people receive surgery that they would never otherwise have had.

In a video, Mercy Ships Executive Director Bryce Wagner has highlighted Pierre, a child whose legs were straightened in an operation on the current vessel, the 16,000-gt Africa Mercy (built 1980).

He also explains how the 37,000-gt newbuilding Global Mercy can make an even bigger impact on health provision in Africa.

With two ships to deploy, the charity will need double its operating budget.

It costs about $20m per year to pay the full medical and maritime operating costs of each ship — and $3m has been raised since 2016, when the Mercy Ships Cargo Day was inaugurated.

Tanker brokers have led the way donating 50% of commissions on cargo fixtures with shipowners and charterers donating money, or pushing Mercy Cargoes towards participating brokers or matching the amounts given by the broking shops.

But this year with Cargo Day is set for 4 November 2020, shipping is under pressure and no one is sure whether a record $1.3m in 2019 can be matched, let alone exceeded.

Cargoes can be arranged across a period of a few weeks before and after that date, but Wagner would like to see involvement spread wider throughout the industry. He said participants would only have to contribute half as much if twice as many companies got involved.

Mercy Ships has previously dealt with ebola in Africa, but Wagner said: “Covid has changed everybody’s lives. We have never had a pandemic this size.

“Now is not the time for us to slow down. We need to find ways to help Africa not only with the current pandemic, but we need to prepare to go back.”

The converted ferry Africa Mercy is expected to return to Senegal early next year, after having to leave early this year due to the pandemic. It will then be met by the Global Mercy as it takes over while the older ship undergoes a refit.

After that, both ships will be deployed with the help of the shipping industry through Cargo Day.

October 19th, 2020 by Paul Berrill

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