Our History

The Beginnings

It is 1978. The former cruise ship Victoria leaves the waters of Venice, Italy. Its glory is part of the past, its future, uncertain. But for a group of ordinary young people, it symbolizes a new destiny.

Don and Deyon Stephens and some friends, at that time based in Switzerland, dreamed of the day when the ship would sail again – this time not as a luxury cruise ship for the rich, but as a hospital ship bringing hope to those in need. Some thought it was an impossible mission.

The deposit was paid upon signing the contract on July 7, 1978. The purchase of the vessel for one million euros was completed on 5 October through loans, mainly through a Swiss bank. Continuous efforts over four years transformed the cruise ship into a hospital ship. In 1982, she sailed for the first time christened Anastasis – the first Ship of Hope.

Today, the Ships of Hope fleet has visited more than 56 different developing countries, bringing health and future to more than 2.8 million people in need. More than 1,200 volunteers from more than 60 nations are working on the front lines and behind the scenes to support the work carried out on and from hospital ships.

The story of Naves de Esperanza is one of hardship and triumph, of success and failure, of weakness and strength – men and women who risked a step out of the ordinary to do good in an ocean of need. Ships of Hope was created by a group of individuals who believe that God loves the world enough to mobilize ships and people, materials and money, time and effort – to bring health and future to those most in need.

The beginnings of Mercy Ships in Spain

In 1978 while living in Lausanne, Switzerland, Don and Deyon Stephens had the idea of putting a fleet of ships with medical personnel and humanitarian aid material on board to help people most in need. A number of Spaniards were involved in the transformation of the first Anastasis ship into the largest non-military hospital ship in the world. This Spanish collaboration continued throughout the early years of Mercy Ships, but faded over time.

In 2000, Naves de Esperanza was registered as an NGO in Spain in order to involve Spaniards once again in this adventure. To date, the various Mercy Ships have already worked in more than 56 developing nations, supported by the 17 Mercy Ships offices in various developed countries, which support the work being done on the ground.

Mercy Ships Spain aims to raise public awareness, recruit volunteers, collect material and support from companies and companies and raise the necessary funds to continue this valuable mission.

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