Meet our International Crew: Andrew Rothwell

The bow of the Global Mercy during a test run

With characteristic humor, operations director Andrew Rothwell says the thing he loves most about working on board the Mercy Ship is the short commute to work – one flight of stairs from his cabin, and 30 seconds later he’s in his office.

The Australian joined Mercy Ships initially in a short term capacity as a vehicle mechanic in 2010. Andrew loved the work so much that he returned full-time the following year in the Sierra Leone, with his wife Jodie and daughter Jessica. He explains, “A lot of the fears I had about joining Mercy Ships longer term evaporated because of the people I met and got to know on board. There is almost a family-type atmosphere of inclusiveness here.”

After serving for two years as the vessel’s Engineering Storeman, Andrew transferred back to transportation, and spent another two years managing the Africa Mercy fleet of vehicles. The 26 four-wheel drives are an essential component of the on-shore work Mercy Ships provides each field service.

Andy Rothwell

Each day, Mercy Ships teams are transported to the dental clinic, the Hospital Out Patient Extension (HOPE) Centre, patients are moved, and supplies are relocated. Weekly, the vehicles negotiate rough terrain to reach villages for palliative care and to allow the Communications team to follow up with patients’ stories after they have returned home. Keeping the fleet well maintained is a matter of crew safety as well as efficiency.

Andrew continues some oversight of the transportation department in his recent role as Operations Director. He describes this executive role as managing everything on board that is non-medical and non-maritime; everything that allows the 480+ crew members to live life on the Mercy Ship.

He continues, “The reason I like Mercy Ships is that we leave a lasting impact wherever we go. You can put your skill and experiences to use for a higher purpose – to make a difference with the skills and abilities you are given- and feel good at the end of your work day.”

Ophthalmic Patient

Andrew reflects over his voluntary service in Togo, Sierra Leone, Guinea, the Congo and Madagascar. His most poignant moments have been observing ophthalmic patients having their eye bandages removed after cataract surgery.

He loves participating in the event that allows eye patients to share what their healing has meant to them. “The Celebration of Sight is very touching,” he reflects. “It’s like a miracle happens before you. The reaction of someone looking around and saying, ‘I can see I can see!’ is amazing! This is why we’re here.”

volunteer Florence Bangura

The Woman Who Forged Her Way Through Walls: Florence Bangura’s Story

Florence’s journey from oldest to newest Mercy Ship came full circle when she met the Global Mercy™ in 2023, the same year that the purpose-built hospital ship began welcoming its patients on board. Today, you can find Florence, now 49 years old, down in the engine room as a hotel engineering assistant.

Dr Austin Demby

Transforming Sierra Leone’s Healthcare: A Vision for Safe and Affordable Surgery

As experts from the surgical and healthcare world gather for the 64th Annual Conference and Scientific Meeting of the West African College of Surgeons in Sierra Leone this week, a profound dedication to advancing surgical knowledge and practice in the region is palpable. At the forefront of discussions lies the conference’s pivotal theme: access to safe and affordable surgical and anesthetic care in West Africa. This theme highlights the pressing need to address disparities in healthcare capabilities and capacities across the region, especially the critical importance of equitable access to quality surgical interventions.

Mission Madagascar

The Africa Mercy Arrives in Madagascar to Bring Hope and Healing Anew

Freshly refitted hospital ship, the upgraded Africa Mercy® has arrived at the island nation to build on the charity’s longstanding collaboration and will provide specialized surgeries in various fields, including maxillofacial and ear nose and throat, general, pediatric specialized general, pediatric orthopedic, cataract surgery, and reconstructive plastics. 

Patient Vanya

Reuniting with Vanya, Years After Surgery

In 2015, in an operating room on board the Africa Mercy while docked in Madagascar, the course of Vanya’s life changed.
Years have now passed since Vanya’s journey toward healing. In the time since, her improved ability to walk allowed her to return to school, where she loved studying environmental science and learning about the world around her.

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