Fr Kent Middleton, Chaplain in the UAE and Revd Canon Stephen Thanapaul in Tuticorin, India, shed light on how they help seafarers celebrate special occasions in their respective regions.
The Mission to Seafarers (MtS) has a unique understanding of the challenges faced by seafarers and their families, with the Seafarer Happiness Index (SHI) regularly helping to shine a light on the areas that require attention. For example, the first quarter of 2023 saw a decline in average seafarer happiness levels across all but one category, with social cohesion, limited shore leave, and inadequate welfare support all being significant concerns.
The Mission to Seafarers remain committed to supporting seafarers and their families year-round, and is dedicated to addressing the issues that matter most to our seafarers. The recent port reports from the UAE and Tuticorin serve as a powerful reminder of how important celebrating special occasions are to improving seafarer welfare.
Revd Canon Stephen Thanapaul, Chaplain in Tuticorin, India, shared details of the Holy Mass celebrations that took place on the 4th May 2023, at the request of the Captain. Given the ongoing lack of shore leave for crew members in the region, resulting in limited human interaction and the ability to celebrate special occasions with the outside world, these events, organised by The Mission to Seafarers, are particularly important.
The Holy Mass service was held onboard in the saloon, with all the crew members in attendance to receive blessings and sing hymns such as ‘Amazing Grace.’ It is heart-warming to hear the Reverend’s account of the seafarers singing loudly and freely, even requesting The Mission to Seafarers’ team to bless the engine room and other locations onboard by sprinkling Holy Water.
We hope through our collective efforts spanning practical and pastoral support, we can bring a little light and hope to seafarers, whose lives are often fraught with challenges.
Fr Kent Middleton, Chaplain in the UAE, also outlined the efforts of the Mission to Seafarers’ team at their local centre, who went the extra mile in order to ensure crew members could celebrate Ramadan. The team acted in partnership with The National Bank of Fujairah in order to carry out their Ramadan Initiative. It is uplifting to hear of the smiles on seafarers’ faces as they received gifts at Dubai Maritime City, with 210 gifts, including towels and toiletries wrapped in a t-shirt, given out.
Without the commitment of our local teams, many seafarers would have missed out on these celebrations, as well as being away from their family, an issue highlighted in our Q1 2023 Seafarers Happiness Index survey. The survey revealed growing frustration towards ship owners who extend their contracts for longer periods than desired and cause delays in the sign-off procedures, resulting in reduced time ashore and with their families. We hope our efforts to celebrate special occasions with seafarers create a sense of a home away from home for them.