Leading maritime charity Sailors’ Society is urging people to remember the world’s 1.2 million seafarers during Sea Sunday (10 July) this weekend.
More than 95% of world trade is transported by sea, yet seafarers are often forgotten. Sailors’ Society wants more people to recognise the hard work, sacrifice and isolation of seafarers, many of whom spend many months away from their families and loved ones.
The organisation’s worldwide network of Port Chaplains provides support to seafarers who are often on the front line of issues such as piracy, poverty and tragedy.
Sailors’ Society Port Chaplain, Howard Drysdale, based in Aberdeen, Scotland recently supported a Filipino seafarer who was in hospital after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.
“When I introduced myself as the Port Chaplain, he immediately burst into tears,” Howard reported. “We chatted for a while, and then I went to the hospital shop to get him what he needed. I thought that he was rather missing Filipino cuisine, and so I went to see another ship in port with a Filipino crew, who kindly prepared a feast for him.”
The seafarer returned home for an operation, but sadly died some months later. In a letter thanking Howard for the care he had given, the man’s widow wrote: “Many thanks Father for all your support. It was so precious to be able to spend such a long time with him, five months – we rarely had more than two months together in all his sea life. He died peacefully in his sleep.”
The seafarer’s widow also contacted the Sailors’ Society Port Chaplain in Subic Bay, Philippines, Jasper D Del Rosario and invited him to the funeral. Jasper travelled across the Philippines to attend and spoke at length with the family, who were very grateful for the tangible help that they had been given by the Society.
Seafarers and their families are offered a range of services including provision of welfare, pastoral support and counsel, spiritual support, funding assistance with maritime education and financial help when in dire need. Port Chaplains are trained to meet with a variety of seafarers’ practical needs. They are able to sell mobile phone cards, change money into local currency, offer transport ashore, pass out information about local services, act as a local guide and conduct worship both ashore and onboard.
For more information on Sailors’ Society and the assistance they provide on Sea Sunday and throughout the year, go to www.sailors-society.org