Cultivating a love of learning in sub-Saharan Africa

Africa Mercy ship

Our latest school spotlight blog features the Mercy Ships Academy, located on the largest civilian hospital ship in the world, the Africa Mercy. Read on to learn more about a totally different type of teaching opportunity and be inspired.

What is Mercy Ships?

Globally, it’s estimated that over 25% of the global disease burden could be addressed with access to safe, affordable surgical care – that’s five billion people. Seeking to meet the needs of the people behind these staggering statistics is at the heart of the Mercy Ships mission – to bring hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor.

Mercy Ships is a faith-based international development charity that deploys state-of-the-art hospital ships in sub-Saharan Africa. These ships, and their crew of volunteers, deliver free, vital surgical care to people in desperate need, while providing volunteers with the opportunity to use their professional skills to help transform lives.

A truly international community

The Africa Mercy is currently the largest civilian hospital ship in the world. Crewed by over 400 volunteers from more than 50 nations, this vessel is able to provide lifesaving surgical care, free of charge. To support crew families, Mercy Ships founded the Mercy Ships AcademY, offering a private, coeducation for Preschool through Grade 12.

The Mercy Ships Academy, located onboard the Africa Mercy, teaches values based on a biblical worldview within the structure of quality academic education, meeting the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of each student.

What is it like to teach on a hospital ship?

Living onboard the Africa Mercy provides students with an appreciation for community, and the joy of helping others. The very special volunteer Academy teachers cultivate a love of learning and a sense of belonging for each student.

My name is Beth Kirchner, and I teach kindergarten onboard the Africa Mercy. I had heard about Mercy Ships, but I had no idea they had any crew onboard that were not medical. When I found that out, it was sort of a perfect mix of things that I love… I love teaching kindergarten on the Africa Mercy.

The Academy is made up of an international faculty and student body, representing an average of 10 different nationalities during each school term. The average enrollment is 55 students, with a student-to-teacher ratio of approximately 5-to-1.

The students have access to nine classrooms, a central multi-purpose library, and computer, language, and science centers; playgrounds and a lap pool are available for sports activities and recreation. The Academy uses an international standard-based curriculum and follows the educational standards of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) and Middle States Association.

For more information on how you can use your experience as an educator to help bring hope and healing in sub-Saharan Africa, visit or contact us directly at Join us, and find your place onboard.

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