Making a Hospital Ship Home: Clementine Tengue’s Story

TOGO — It was a conversation with her pastor, all the way back in 1995, that changed the trajectory of Clementine’s life. Clementine was working at her church when she heard that a hospital ship would soon be arriving in her home country of Togo. She was immediately intrigued — enough to leave her job to serve onboard as a local day crew. She didn’t mind what the job was; she would serve wherever she was needed. Almost two years later, Mercy Ships founder Don Stephens asked Clementine to step into a newly created role ministering to patients, saying, “Every hospital has a chaplain.” Connecting with people all day — and sharing about her faith? It was her dream come true.

As soon as possible, Clementine plans to return to her ship home. After spending time filling vital needs on the Africa Mercy, she will embark on a new adventure as hospital chaplain onboard the Global Mercy®.

Clementine TengueMercy Ships Chaplain:

Now I’m travelling I don’t know where I’m from because I live on the ship. That’s it. I first heard about the ship in 1990. What really touched me was the way the crew were treating the patients with care and love and acceptance. I thought this is what I want to do. I want to be part of this helping my own people.

And my first job on the ship was I worked in the dining room. Every department is important. It’s a mission. We minister in every area. Either I’m in the galley or in the dining room. It’s a mission.
Actually it was Don Stephens who had the idea and said ‘Every hospital has a chaplain. Wouldn’t it be good to name Clementine hospital chaplain?’

We have patients who are rejected, outcasts. The worst thing is they were not only rejected, but they reject themselves. So we prepare them for the doctors so that they have confidence that this is a better place. And this is the first world class hospital ship that is coming to help free of charge. Give them that assurance and support them and encourage them. That’s how hospital chaplaincy was berthed.

I couldn’t go back so I stayed and I got in contact with Dr Wodome. He’s an ophthalmologist. He worked with Mercy Ships in the past when the ship came to Togo. He really caught the vision of Mercy Ships. He wants to be the face of Mercy Ships in Togo, which is wonderful. He asked me to do what I’m doing on the ship, counseling, helping the patients and building relationships, preparing them for surgery. I said yes. That’s what I love to do. That’s my job.

I am so excited for Global Mercy because I’ve been praying for that ship for so long and I’m looking so much forward to serve on that ship for the first field service. Be with the patients, be with the crew, be with my ship family. It’s my home. I don’t see any other home apart from Mercy Ships.

About Mercy Ships

Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services, capacity building, and sustainable development to those with little access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 55 developing countries, providing services valued at more than $1.7 billion and directly benefitting more than 2.8 million people. Our ships are crewed by volunteers from over 60 nations, with an average of over 1,200 volunteers each year. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills. With 16 national offices and an Africa Bureau, Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. For more information click on

CONTACT: Diane Rickard, Int’l Media Relations Manager, Mercy Ships,

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