How mum-of-three Maria dreamed of life on a hospital ship

How mum-of-three Maria dreamed of life on a hospital ship

Mercy Ships brings free, life-changing surgeries to women, men and children across sub-Saharan Africa. We rely on caring volunteers like Maria to keep our ships running.

When nine-year-old Maria Kuo went on a Mercy Ships tour in New Zealand, a fire was lit in her heart. Fast forward and she’s now a Ward Clinical Supervisor on board – as well as raising her three children.

“I’ve always had a huge passion for Mercy Ships. I love being a nurse, and I really love being able to use my skills to serve the people on board,” said Maria.


A ward nurse plays with an orthopaedic patient on the deck of the hospital ship. Photo: Mercy Ships/Abigail Beinetti


“The ship is so well set-up for the surgeries, the recovery, and you can really input in these patients’ lives. They’ve had problems for such a long time, and then you can come and fix them with sometimes quite a simple surgery to change their whole lives.

“When I first came on the ship as a single nurse I loved seeing all the families on the ship. I thought, ‘This is what I want to do with my family one day.’”

Now, as Ward Clinical Supervisor, she has brought her husband and three children aged nine, eight and six onboard to help her fulfil that calling.

“I love the fact that the children will grow up in this community,” added Maria, pointing out some of the ways that the Global Mercy is not just a ship, but a second home.

Maria enjoys lunch with her family in their cabin. Photo: Mercy Ships/Elizabeth Page Brumley


“My kids are very adaptable children, so they were excited from the start. There’s a really good schooling system here, so the kids are doing well in their school.” She also admits another load is off her mind: “I don’t have to cook dinner for two years!”

Knowing that her family is provided for, Maria is able to focus better on her duties as Ward Clinical Supervisor.

“My job is to put nurses in areas that they’re really going to excel in, and help with the nitty-gritty stuff of running the wards. But I still get to spend time on the wards and get to know the patients and the crew. I get the best of both worlds.”

Maria has seen both sides of the experience, as a growing professional nurse and as a mother. She is enthusiastic to show how it’s not as crazy as some might think, and how the experience is worth adapting what you’re used to for ship-life.


“I’ve always had a huge passion for Mercy Ships,” says Maria.
Photo: Mercy Ships/Elizabeth Page Brumley


“The reward that you get from seeing the change in these patients is amazing,” Maria says.

“The patients are grateful for the care that they get, so you get that satisfaction, but you’re also working in a community of international nurses. You get to see how things happen all over the world instead of just comparing that to your own country.”

Mercy Ships is always looking for volunteer professionals to serve on board our ships, including those like Maria with managerial experience in the medical field.

We are looking for new members of our team, who are dedicated to our mission of following the 2,000-year-old model of Jesus to bring hope and healing.

If you’re willing to take a leap of faith and dedicate a moment of your life making a lasting impact through Mercy Ships, then find your place on board today.