It is said that 95% of goods and commodities are transported by sea. Have you ever wondered or even thought about the people who spend weeks and months on our oceans to make our lives convenient. What about the deep sea fishers…
We are the Mission to Seafarers in the Port of Cape Town and this is our part of our story…
We form part of a regional and global organization registered as a Non-Profit Organization (NPO) and annually we receive 40 000+ seafarers visiting our centre in the Port of Cape Town. These are seafarers from all over the world. The trend has shifted to the bulk of these seafarers who are fishers that visit the Mission centre. Often lowly paid, the bulk of their pay gets sent home to their families and they survive on the bare minimum. They are truly “Migrant workers at sea”!
These seafarers are fetched and dropped off daily to and from our centre so that they can communicate with their families and friends. Often many of them are away from home for 6,9,12, 18 months to as long as 2 years (24 months). Some seafarers don’t even get to touch dry land for 9 months if they work on large oil tankers and they only get to do so when their contracts end and they go home for a break only to return for another 9 months contract. Can we even start to begin to imagine how that may be?
The Mission to Seafarers is feeling the effects of the fragile state of the global and local our economy and this is further exacerbated by COVID-19.
For more than 100 years, the Mission to Seafarers Cape Town has been looking after the health and well-being of all seafarers, irrespective of nationality, race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion or social origin and irrespective of the flag State of the ship on which they are employed or engaged or work.
Many of us know of someone who worked at sea or even have a family member working at sea. So, you will know the stress and strain and the burden placed on these men and women having to brave the vast oceans.
Reports of metal health issues are surfacing and with COVID-19 and lockdown many of the foreign seafarers are not able to get shore leave meaning they cannot leave their ships. Crew changes cannot take place due to no international flights and seafarers are confined to their cabins longing for their families. Often we visit these ships but due to lockdown regulations. However in partnership with Shipping Agents, we provide airtime for seafarers to contact their families while they are confined to their ships.
The Mission to Seafarers in the Port of Cape Town, is a safe place for seafarers to come to relax, get in touch with their families and for recreational health and wellbeing. There are some seafarers who end up in hospital and are visited to help them cope with the stress of being hospitalised in a foreign country. Again, due to COVID-19 and the South African lockdown regulations we are prevented from visiting anyone at hospital for now.
These seafarers are welcomed daily (under normal circumstances) by the Mission to Seafarers Port Chaplain and staff. We had to close our doors for 2 and a half months. Thankfully we are open and operating with a limited service.
Please consider helping us to keep making a difference in the lives of people who work often in dangerous and stressful environments like seafarers.
Your giving will help us keep our doors open and to serve the seafarers who visit the Port of Cape Town for a truly unique Cape Town welcome!!