The Revd Isaac Franklin, a port chaplain in Bahrain, shares insight on the challenges faced by seafarers in the region during December 2022
At The Mission to Seafarers, we understand the unique challenges faced by seafarers and their families, especially during the Christmas season. For many, being away from home and loved ones during this time can be especially difficult, as the holiday season emphasises the importance of family and togetherness. This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness for seafarers, as well as added stress and worry for their families at home.
We work to support and assist seafarers and their families throughout the year. Our chaplains and teams provide pastoral care, practical support, and a sense of community for seafarers in ports around the world. As we reflect on the year that has passed, we wanted to update you on the recent activity of our colleagues, specifically in Bahrain during December 2022.
Bahrain – December 2022
Revd. Isaac, port chaplain in Bahrain, shared how the team received gifts from the local church congregation which were packaged, prepared, and distributed to seafarers from the Missions’ Seafarers’ Centre inside the port. Similarly, Revd. Isaac’s team received sponsorship from the APM terminal in Kalifa Bin Salman Port to provide Christmas gifts to the seafarers, which were distributed on 27 December 2022.
On 25 December 2022, Revd. Isaac conducted Christmas Mass on board a vessel. After which, he joined the crew for their Christmas dinner which was a joyful moment for them all. Revd. Isaac was honoured to have been presented with a star made by the seafarers as a token of love and appreciation. However, regardless of the season, seafarers continue to face perennial challenges such as long hours, difficult working conditions, and limited access to communication and support while at sea. These factors can make it difficult for seafarers to fully participate in and enjoy the holiday season and can also lead to additional vulnerabilities and worries.
For example, the Revd. Isaac shared how an Indian seafarer confided in him that he wished to be signed off from the vessel he was on and expressed concern that even though he had asked the captain several times, he had not been given a proper answer. Since the vessel had then left Iran, Revd. Isaac contacted Willy Nebria, MtS Welfare Officer at Jebel Ali port, UAE, who met the seafarer on arrival and continued contact via the phone. Following this, once the ship’s captain became aware of Mission’s intervention, the seafarer was subsequently granted permission to sign off within three days and the matter was amicably settled.
Another occasion where the Revd. Isaac and his team worked to provide assistance in Bahrain port was for a captain grieving the death of his father. The captain was anxious to attend his father’s funeral but since his company were not relieving him at this crucial time, he sought Mission’s help. The Revd Isaac Franklin liaised with The Revd John Attenborough, Regional Director in Middle East and South Asia, on this issue and wrote to the company explaining the tragic situation of the captain and his genuine need to be signed off to attend his father’s funeral.
Despite all efforts, there was no response from the company. The captain stayed in touch with Revd Isaac Franklin until 2nd January 2023, but communication ceased shortly after. It is unfortunate that Mission could not get him the help he needed, but this goes to show the many layers of complexity faced by Mission’s teams working to support seafarers and the barriers they face in achieving this.
We hope that through our efforts, we can bring a little light and hope to seafarers during the Christmas season and throughout the year. We are grateful for the support of our partners and volunteers in helping us to accomplish this mission.