Mercy Ships is a charity which operates hospital ships in developing nations. It was the inaugural winner of Atlassian’s new annual award given to a Community License holder. The following guest blog post was written by Anne Barker, Mercy Ships’ Information Projects Specialist. Entries for the 2011 Do-Gooder award close on April 25th.

mercyships logo.jpg We’re all pinching pennies these days, whether it’s in the grocery budget or cutting down on travel. But the world’s poor often don’t even have the pennies to pinch. In western Africa, where the Mercy Ship Africa Mercy is on field service for 10 months of each year, many simple and treatable health conditions grow into life threatening issues, simply because there is so little access to the most basic health care.


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Mercy Ships doctors perform surgeries that can vastly improve the quality of life for men, women and children. The $10,000 awarded by Atlassian to Mercy Ships as winners of the 2010 Atlassian Community Award helped pay for 20 reconstructive surgeries in Togo last year. Kossi is a prime example.

Mercy Ships is an Atlassian Community License Holder. We began using Confluence and JIRA in October 2005, subsequently adding Bamboo and Crowd.

We estimate that the value to us of the Atlassian software provided under the Community License is around $30,000. For this amount we can remove 60 facial tumors from those who are regarded as possessed by evil spirits, or do 120 cataract surgeries to restore sight to young and old, or correct 120 cleft lip/palates in children seen as cursed, or correct 60 obstetric fistulas for ladies usually abandoned by their husbands and families, or offer 600 free dental procedures in areas where there is no dentist.


Mercy Ships, a global charity, has operated a fleet of hospital ships in developing nations since 1978. Mercy Ships brings hope and healing to the forgotten poor by mobilizing people and resources worldwide, and serving all people without regard for race, gender, or religion. It all started like this. The majority of our crew and staff are volunteers, responsible for raising their own financial support; volunteers on the hospital ship Africa Mercy must cover their own travel expenses and pay monthly “Crew Fees” for accommodation and food while onboard.

We use Confluence for Navigator, our global intranet, which is proving to be an invaluable information resource and collaborative working tool across departments and locations: the ship is supported from our International Operations Center (IOC) in east Texas, four warehouses and 15 National offices around the world. A couple of user comments illustrate this:

Comment from an International Procurement team member: “Efficiency is greatly improved because questions can be answered by a QUICK search rather than interrupting your own AND someone else’s work to look for answers. Everything you need is on Navigator.” 

Comment from a volunteer at the IOC: “The resources in FinACE (Financial Accountability, Coaching and Encouragement) and the articles and videos that are posted from time to time allow me to communicate more often and better to my supporters.”

Our Information Services team uses Confluence for documentation, and JIRA to manage issues for IT projects, systems and services. This has enabled fairer and more appropriate allocation of tasks and excellent tracking of issues, responses and outcomes. Together these applications allow our Information Services team to make best use of their skills, time and available IT resources to support the mission of Mercy Ships through value-added technology-enabled services.

Mercy Ships can do what we do (serve the forgotten poor) because of our people. Our people are more effective when the relationships between them are strong, in trust and understanding. Good communications nurtures these inter-personal relationships, promotes common understanding, and builds trust. Via Confluence, Navigator provides an effective and efficient platform for our internal communications and collaborative working.

Our use of Atlassian software under a Community License catalyzes synergy and enables us to do more with what we have, to bring hope and healing to the forgotten poor. We’re honored to have won Atlassian’s first prize for non-profits last year and hope Atlassian will continue foundation giving to charities like ours around the world.

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