Mercy Ships honors a life of service

Françoise André

Mercy Ships honors Françoise André

The committee, employees, founders, and all members of the humanitarian organization Mercy Ships are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Françoise André, a prominent member of the Mercy Ships Switzerland and international Boards and vice president of the Mercy Ships International executive committee. Since the birth of Mercy Ships in 1978, she has been an unwavering pillar of our cause, and we are immensely grateful for her exemplary commitment.

Our thoughts, prayers, and sympathy are with her family during this time of mourning.

Françoise André, an example of faith and dedication

Each of us has been deeply touched by Françoise’s steadfast commitment since the early days of the organization in 1978. Her unwavering faith, reflected in her actions, and her dedication to supporting the work of hospital ships have been a source of inspiration for all who have had the privilege of knowing her.

A woman of action, she traveled the globe repeatedly to support Mercy Ships, as well as other humanitarian initiatives, visiting 99 countries! Françoise served with joy, humility, and enthusiasm on the committees of Mercy Ships Switzerland and Mercy Ships International..

Don and Deyon Stephens, founders of Mercy Ships and longtime friends of Françoise, honored her memory with these words: “Françoise André’s deep faith in God and commitment to serving in Mercy Ships’ mission was characterized by her admirable character, her gracious humility, compassion, and wisdom, her personal relationships as a mentor to Mercy Ships volunteers, and her extraordinary, magnanimous support of Mercy Ships and its charitable mission for so many years. She was treasured and loved by all who felt her presence in our Mercy Ships family.”

Committed to Mercy Ships from the beginning

Alongside her husband Henri André, Françoise has been an active partner of Don and Deyon Stephens since the foundation of Mercy Ships. In our June 2023 newsletter, she recounted the memory of the moment she first heard about Don Stephens’ idea:

“Don and Deyon had invited us to dinner one evening at their very small apartment in the hills of Lausanne. Don began to talk about his dream of a hospital ship. Henri had said to him, ‘We can help you, come see us at the office!’”

Don Stephens adds, “Without Henri’s expertise, that of his colleagues, and the SwissAtlantique family business, we would not exist today. I knew nothing about the maritime world, yet it was essential for my project, and it is thanks to them that we have been able to come as far as we have.”

In 45 years, Françoise has not lost her passion for the work of Mercy Ships, as she already expressed in our 2018 annual report. “From the beginning, I was excited about the almost crazy dream of my friends Don and Deyon: we never imagined that from an old decommissioned cruise ship, Mercy Ships would become the organization it is today. I continue to be moved by the commitment of all those who serve by giving their time, money, and energy!”

Her love for others and her enduring joy will remain etched in our memories forever. The team of Mercy Ships Switzerland in Lausanne will especially remember her humor, her humility, the moments of shared prayer and her genuine interest in each team member.

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René Lehmann
René Lehmann
René Lehmann is the Managing Director of Mercy Ships Switzerland.

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