The Africa Mercy has meeting and work spaces as well as berths for an average crew of 400 from up to 50 nations serving onboard at any given time. The 16,500-ton vessel has had over 10,000 crew from over 90 countries serve onboard since its deployment in 2007. The 481 berths include 24 family cabins, 29 cabins for couples, and shared and single cabins for individual occupants.
Born in Ghana, Joe Biney has been volunteering with Mercy Ships since 1991. He serves onboard with his wife Agnes and two children Josie and Caleb.
Currently Joe serves as Third Engineer. He and his team of engineers power the Africa Mercy from the Engine Room.
Joe previously served on two of the former Mercy Ships: the Anastasis and the Caribbean Mercy and says he first heard about Mercy Ships through his brother Rev. Faithful Biney, also from Ghana who was one of the early pioneers of the first Mercy Ship, Anastasis in Greece during the very early days. Faithful had served in the engine room onboard as well.
“Originally, I joined the Anastasis from an Accounting background. I had previously worked with the Ghana Port and Harbours Authority from 1988 – 1990 in the accounting department. So when I applied, I was thinking I would serve in that way; but God had a different plan for me.”
“I wound up in the Engineering department where the need was even greater. Knowing nothing about engines, I began to get training and my interest and passion in the engine room grew. I was able to go through an apprenticeship programme onboard the ship which prepared me for my exams and went on to attain my Engineering Officers Certification through South Shields Marine College in the UK.
As you know it is difficult to raise support from Ghana, my home country As you can expect, it is difficult to raise support from Ghana, my home country but we are grateful for a few friends that the Lord brought into our lives who have been faithful in supporting our family over all these years. Some we met on the ship and some we met outside the ship. Also, Mercy Ships has had a “Mercy Fund” for those from low income countries, thanks to a foundation and funding partners. And that has also helped us continue to serve,” states Joe.
“I am grateful to the Lord that what I do in the engine room is making a lasting impact on the lives of the forgotten poor we serve. My life and my family have been greatly impacted too,” he says. Joe’s 18-year old son Caleb just graduated this past year from the ship’s Academy onboard, a school for children of the crew. He spent all of his schooling years onboard the ship.
Seafarers like Joe play a major part in delivering Mercy Ships medical capacity building and free surgery programmes. Without the generators in the Engine Room, there would be no lighting for the hospital, no power for the galley, and no air conditioning to keep the ship cool.
Joseph says: “With Mercy Ships, you are not on your own. You have support. On a commercial ship, you may be alone, but onboard with Mercy Ships, people are standing with you. These people become your brothers and sisters. They become your friends. In the engine room, we work as a team. We have one goal that we are all working to achieve—to make sure people get help. It is a privilege and it is an opportunity… and it is an honour to serve with Mercy Ships.”
Interested to become a volunteer on board of the Africa Mercy too?
Every year over a thousand of volunteers from over 40 countries give their time and skills to serve on board our hospital ship, the Africa Mercy.