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The Africa Mercy houses a culturally diverse community, boasting over 60 countries represented at any given time. With volunteer crew from all over the world, one doesn’t need to step foot onto the dock in West Africa to experience another culture. One simply needs to walk into the dining room! 

On the Africa Mercy, volunteers make a point to share their country’s culture through various events that all crew are invited to attend. One special event for the ship’s entire crew, Carols by Candlelight, is coordinated by the Australian volunteers at Christmas time– a beautiful night on the dock with the crew and patients, holding candles while singing holiday carols.

Yet, even with all of the exposure to new things, new people, new cultures, and new traditions, sometimes crew long for the familiar things of their home country.

Research shows that one of the things people living abroad miss most is the food of their home country. But food is not the only thing that can be missed. There is a longing for the familiar sounds, smells and traditions as well.

Australian crew members celebrate Australia Day 2020 at the beach in Dakar, Senegal.

Sometimes everyone needs a little bit of home, so to keep homesickness at bay, crew gather together with friends from their homeland. The Australian crew are no exception as they gather for a day of celebrating all things Australian each January for Australia Day. Australian crew members bring along decorations, snacks from home (Arnott’s Shapes and Minties are a few favourites) and their swimmers/bathers/togs for a day at the beach – including hotly contested games of beach cricket.

The beauty of serving with Mercy Ships is no matter where the ship takes you, you will always be able to find someone who makes you feel at home. Just talking about the things you love about your home country can bring great comfort, and when you’re in a community of people who have all left their countries to come live on a ship, you quickly find that you are not alone in your feelings. With such great diversity, comes great capacity for connectedness.

If you want all the adventure of living overseas in a multi-cultural community, while still having some of the comforting traditions of home, grab a friend and come serve with Mercy Ships! For more information, check out mercyships.org.au/volunteer.