Preparing the way

In reality the preparations for the deployment of a Mercy Ship start years in advance. Formal agreements are signed with the government and many assessment trips are made in advance to ensure we understand the local situation and provide the most useful support for the local healthcare system.

Advance Team

For several months before the ship arrives in its next country, a small group of 11, making up the advance team, have had a huge list of jobs to do, which must be finished before the ship’s arrival. The team is responsible for many things including hiring translators and other local workers, preparing advertising campaigns to let people know what conditions can be treated and preparing all that is necessary so the worlds largest civilian hospital ship can arrive and go straight to work.
Andrea Valk
Andrea Valk is the Advance Team director, and since the age of 9 she has known she wanted to be involved in Mercy Ships. “My mom took me to tour the Anastasis (the first Mercy Ship) and immediately after visiting I told her I wanted to become a nurse and help people on the ship. Something really touched my heart when I was on board and I thought, ‘this is what I want to do.”

Her dream is now a reality. Initially working as a nurse, her role has changed when in 2013 an opportunity presented itself to become the Advance Team Leader. Andrea now spends most of her time traveling throughout Africa, and organizing the endless details ahead of the Africa Mercy’s arrival along with her dedicated advance team.

“I love advance,” Andrea shared. “It is a great opportunity to work off ship and to meet people in the country. I love working on ship-wide concepts. It is a privilege to do this.”