Interview with Christine Sager
Christine Sager was elected to the Board of Mercy Ships Switzerland in June 2020. As an American and Swiss citizen, experienced diplomat’s wife and dedicated philanthropist, she enriches the Board with an international dimension and a great deal of cultural sensitivity.
You have decided to become a member of the board at Mercy Ships Switzerland. What led you to get involved with the organisation?
I felt greatly honored when asked if I would consider joining the board. I had been aware of Mercy Ships and its mission for approximately 5 years, but it wasn’t until I attended an event that I understood the full scope and the impact of Mercy Ships’ work.
I was deeply touched by the stories of individuals whose lives were transformed by surgeries performed on the ships. These are people of little or no means, who have been handicapped by deformity from birth, accidents or disease that robs them of the ability to work, or otherwise live ‘normal’ lives. The medical treatment they receive on Mercy Ships fills them with hope for a new beginning.
And to a great extent, this is due to the generosity of hundreds of volunteers, from seasoned medical professionals to students, all offering skills and services needed to run a full-service hospital on water. There is nothing more emotionally moving than people giving to people.
How do you perceive the organization today?
One aspect of the organization that I appreciate is Mercy Ships’ vision of a long-term contribution to the regions in which it operates. Through cooperation with the local governments and institutions, medical professionals and others in the healthcare industry receive training to continue providing quality care once Mercy Ships has left the country. This transfer of knowledge leads to sustainable development in the area of health.
I am impressed by the organization’s solid history of loyal contributors, among them a strong board with members who have served tirelessly for many years. In my interactions with the Mercy Ships CH management team I have been struck by its efficiency and creativity, which gives me great confidence that it will also successfully steer through the Covid 19 storm.
You have been a diplomatic spouse for many years. What did this role mean for your everyday life?
My husband and I have spent the last 30 years moving every 3 to 4 years. This taught me to be flexible and to adapt quickly. It was a lifestyle that, while interesting, also posed challenges for personal development. Though I wasn’t able to pursue a ‘normal’ career, I could work in many different fields, and widen my horizons. I worked in the areas of tourism and relocation, completed a Master’s degree in teaching English, and then worked as a teacher for many years. I took on various volunteer jobs (fighting human trafficking, assisting refugees, etc.), and even started my own non-profit organization in London to promote and market the works of talented artists in Central Asia. And yes, as a part of being a diplomatic spouse, I organized dinners and entertained with my husband. We have been greatly blessed by the many inspiring people we have met along the way.
You have taken on different functions in the fight for social equity/justice over the years. Why is this topic particularly close to your heart?
Social justice and equality is not only a moral imperative; it also leads to more political and economic stability. Over the years, I have mostly been engaged with organizations that lend a helping hand to the vulnerable: people who were victims of their socio-political environment.
While life may often seem unfair, it must never be deprived of human dignity. When it is threatened, it is our responsibility to help by giving those who are disadvantaged and their families a better chance in life as full members of society who will, perhaps, even be in the position to help others someday.