Mission To Seafarers and Deutsche Seemannsmission agree partnership deal to support seafarer welfare in Panama

28th March 2023
A new maritime partnership, The Seafarers Mission – Panama’, will strengthen the delivery of world-class welfare services for seafarers in Panama

Leading maritime welfare organisations The Mission to Seafarers and Deutsche Seemannsmission have launched a new partnership to improve welfare services for seafarers in Panama. To be known as The Seafarers Mission – Panama, this joint initiative will deliver significantly enhanced welfare services and resources for the benefit of seafarers that are passing through one of the world’s most important waterways and shipping nations.

Under the auspices of The Seafarers Mission – Panama, The Mission to Seafarers and Deutsche Seemannsmission will jointly coordinate their work in Panama, and work together to support and advocate on behalf of international seafarers calling in Panama. This includes the many thousands of seafarers who sail through the Panama Canal each year.

The new partnership was launched at a reception held at the residence of the British Ambassador in Panama, hosted by Ambassador Tim Stew MBE, who is also Patron of Mission to Seafarers, Panama, and attended by Andrew Wright, Secretary General of The Mission to Seafarers, and Matthias Ristau, General Secretary of the Deutsche Seemannsmission.

The Mission to Seafarers has been working in Panama since 2018, inspired by Dr John Meredith CBE, a leading industry figure, now resident in Panama and Chairman of the local committee. Under the dynamic leadership of Father Ian Hutchinson Cervantes, it has developed a strong welfare presence across Panama’s ports. This is particularly important in such a vital maritime strategic hub, with the Canal and key ports at either end. The importance of the relationship is enhanced, given that Panama is the world’s largest ship registry. The Mission’s work has also been supported by key partners across government and by maritime authorities.

The Mission to Seafarers has now been joined by the Deutsche Seemannsmission, for whom Panama will be its 33rd station around the world. Andrea Meenken has been appointed as chaplain, providing practical support and pastoral care for seafarers.

The two organisations will also jointly fund an additional full-time chaplain, as well as continuing to build a strong volunteer base. Both organisations are committed to seamlessly working together in this new partnership.

Andrew Wright, Secretary General of The Mission to Seafarers, commented: “I am absolutely delighted about this new partnership. Our strategy commits us to build such partnerships. They ensure a joined-up approach to seafarers’ welfare and fresh investment of people, skills and financial resource into crew welfare. It has been exciting to be here this week and I thank all involved in this project. I have been amazed to see the speed of progress in Panama since we began this work less than five years ago. This is a key hub and we have shared exciting plans for the way things might develop further into the future.”

Matthias Ristau, General Secretary of the Deutsche Seemannsmission, said: “We have decided that here at the Panama Canal, one of the most important waterways in the world, we will join forces for the benefit of seafarers. 14,000 ships pass through the canal a year, so it’s important that someone keeps an eye on the seafarers. There are an incredible number of ships here in Panama. And seafarers live and work on them, and they need to be looked after. We now want to tackle this together with our British colleagues and achieve the best for them.”

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