Corporate commitment to Mercy Ships comes alive on board the hospital ship Africa Mercy
The first time Melanie Perkl set foot on board the Africa Mercy, she had goosebumps. “I could feel that great things happen there. It was just palpable, and I knew I wanted to be part of it,” she recalls her first impression of the hospital ship that has since become a large part of her professional and personal life. Perkl is responsible for sponsoring and donations at MAN Energy Solutions, which also includes coordinating the company’s sponsorship of Mercy Ships. The non-governmental hospital ship organization delivers state-of-the-art medical equipment and surgery services to people who have no access to the healthcare they need in their country – aboard the Africa Mercy.
Africa Mercy volunteers operating on board the hospital ship
MAN supports this mission by literally “powering hope and healing.” Since the first delivery of four MAN-engines to power the floating hospital’s medical equipment in 2010, this corporate commitment to the organization and its mission has continually grown and deepened.
As part of the sponsorship agreement first signed in 2016, Mercy Ships will receive further spare parts free of charge for the MAN installations aboard the Africa Mercy, while MAN PrimeServ performs regular maintenance of the machines and training to the volunteers on board.
After several years of supporting the Mercy Ships mission from her office in Germany, Perkl finally had the opportunity to experience the life-changing work of the organization when she voluntarily joined the Africa Mercy crew for five weeks in 2018. “My time on board took my work on this topic to a whole new level,” she tells us of her time as a volunteer, which affected her deeply. “One of the first things I learned,” she explains, “was that it’s not about you, it’s about serving others. Of course, you see terrible things, people suffering from awful diseases, but you also see the positive impact the Africa Mercy has on their lives.”
The experience also motivates her to share the important work supported by MAN with her colleagues. “I’m convinced that this social project is a perfect fit for the new direction we’ve taken as a company, which is why we want people to see it with their own eyes.”
MAN employee Melanie Perkl during her time as an Africa Mercy volunteer
MAN Corporate Social Responsibility comes to life
Therefore, a selected group of MAN employees from different sites recently visited the Africa Mercy to experience the charity work of Mercy Ships and how the international crew on board makes the difference.
“Our employees gained deep insights both as professionals and on a personal level. The moments on board this ship of hope showed our colleagues the importance of our partnership and the work we are supporting,” says Perkl.
A ward nurse (also a volunteer) with a patient on the Africa Mercy’s deck
The group confirms the profound effect even a short visit on board can have. They spent three days on the Africa Mercy, which is currently docked in Conakry, Guinea, familiarizing themselves with its medical services, meeting the crew and the patients, and of course inspecting the MAN machinery installed below deck.
The Vision Trip offered a moving experience, the opportunity for personal and social development, as well as valuable insights into the healthcare services offered by Mercy Ships and the sustainable part MAN plays in making them possible. Merete Hallien, Head of MAN PrimeServ Norway, sums up her experience. “The Vision Trip onboard the Africa Mercy was a revelation. To see the impact of Mercy Ships’ efforts, to feel the exceptional commitment and compassion exercised by the crew and see how MAN play a part in making this possible through our sponsorship. To see the MAN equipment running on board was a great bonus. I believe it adds another layer of motivation, seeing that our contribution can help make a small difference in the world.”
Barbara Thiem who works at Human Resources in Oberhausen, Germany, was similarly impressed. “We had the chance to explore the whole ship and I was very impressed by the hospital, but also the big, clean machine room. It’s a great chance to see how an organization such as Mercy Ships can achieve something big when it is driven by the pursuit of a common idea. It’s an opportunity to redefine one’s own priorities – be it at work or in private.”
MAN employees visiting the Africa Mercy on a Vision Trip
Partnership is already set for the future
The Vision Trips have been another step to further deepen the partnership between MAN Energy Solutions and Mercy Ships – a commitment already set for the future. At the SMM 2018 Marine Trade Fair in Hamburg, MAN Energy Solutions extended its partnership with Mercy Ships for another two years and is going to deliver spare parts worth €500,000 free of charge during this time.
At the signing ceremony, Dr. Uwe Lauber, CEO of MAN Energy Solutions, emphasized the importance of this engagement: “We are delighted to continue our partnership with Mercy Ships and to support such a worthy cause that provides crucial medical treatment to some of the world’s most deprived people. MAN Energy Solutions’ support of the Africa Mercy is important as it reflects our sense of social responsibility and the ethical way we seek to do business.”
Patients boarding the Africa Mercy hospital ship
The agreement with MAN Energy Solutions releases substantial funds to help Mercy Ships bring hope and healing by providing free surgery to people with very little access to necessary medical care.”