'Tug of Heart' Takes Economics Graduate to 22 Countries Over 21 Months Aboard Charity Ship

Stephen and Kathy Mew
Stephen and Kathy Mew

Stephen Mew, B.A., Economics, ’06

Stephen Mew (B.A., economics, ’06) was nine years into a successful career as a program manager at Yahoo when he felt a higher calling and resigned his job. With his wife, Kathy, Mew joined the ship MV Logos Hope, operated by a German Christian charity, to bring books and aid to people around the world.

“I couldn't ignore that tug of the heart,” Mew said recently after completing 21 months aboard the all-volunteer ship and returning to the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Mews were among about 400 volunteers, from over 60 countries. “It was a blessing and an honor to be a part of this international ship,” Mew said.

During their service from January 2016 through October 2017, the couple visited 22 countries—most of them in Africa and the Caribbean. “We started working in the book fair, which welcomes visitors on our ship where they can purchase quality books at a fraction of the retail price,” Mew said.

Then the Mews moved to marine operations, where Stephen served as the purser and Kathy was the technical administrator, reporting directly to the ship’s captain.

As purser, Mew said, “I was responsible for clearing the ship upon arrival in each port with all the officials, including immigration, customs, port security and port health. I was the main contact with the shipping agent to handle our general ship operations, including sewage, fresh water, garbage, and other logistics including freight and payments.”

After Hurricane Irma devastated the Caribbean island of Barbuda in September, the crew of the MV Logos Hope partnered with Samaritan's Purse and Mission Aviation Fellowship to do relief work.

“It was an amazing experience to see so many different cultures, and how other people live. Before this experience, I really only thought about the USA, but the world is so much bigger and there are so many people in need of help and, most importantly, hope.

“While on the ship, we could really make an impact in the communities and slums we visited. … We'd see kids without any clothes or shoes. It truly puts things in perspective, and how extremely fortunate we are living here in America.”

Mew and his wife met at their Oakland church in 2010 and married in 2014. The couple is now living in Pleasanton while exploring what their next steps will be.

Kathleen Holder, social sciences writer for the College of Letters and Science