Mercy Ships and Costa Group have reached a key milestone in their recently announced cooperation by kicking-off a joint volunteer program supporting the hospital ship, Africa Mercy. For a total of four months, the first Costa Group volunteer Tomislav Zubovic will serve as an engineer onboard to support the ship’s staff and share his seafaring experiences gained with companies such as AIDA Cruises.

Michael Thamm, Group CEO of Costa Group & Carnival Asia, is thrilled about the quick results that followed the signing of a memorandum of understanding in March 2017 and shared that, “the collaboration with Mercy Ships enables us to support the people who need it most. As this reflects our key values, our crews are very much looking forward to becoming active and giving back to society. I am proud of their overwhelming resonance.”

Africa Mercy is the largest non-governmental hospital ship in the world and provides free surgeries and dental care to patients with urgent medical needs. It hosts over 400 volunteers from more than 40 nations. Costa Group has committed to continuously man one engineering position onboard.

“Tomislav Zubovic and future volunteers will not only lend a helping hand but will also share their knowledge with the other volunteers onboard. This way, we can ensure to provide sustainable benefits beyond this program,” explained Michael Thamm.

Zubovic, 28, holds a degree in Marine Engineering and has already worked on different ships within the Group, including AIDAsol and AIDAluna.

“I am very excited about this challenge,” added Zubovic. “We are truly making a difference here and I am looking forward to helping operate this ship that gives hope to so many people.”

The volunteer program is one of several activities Costa Group and Mercy Ships agreed on in their partnership. The group will furthermore inform guests travelling onboard the Costa Group fleet about Mercy Ships and their activities. Additionally, officers and engineers with Mercy Ships have the opportunity to gain sea-service experience and nautical expertise on board Costa Group ships. To grant immediate assistance, Costa Group has also made a donation of 100,000 euros.

Africa Mercy is operated by the charity organization Mercy Ships and is about to set course to Douala, Cameroon, in August. Douala is the country’s biggest city and home to Central Africa’s largest port. Quality of healthcare in Cameroon is still relatively low and average life expectancy is only 56 years (UNDP). The country, however, enjoys relatively high political and social stability that facilitated the development of agriculture, roads, railways and various industries.