We receive regular updates from our global network of chaplains and volunteers on the state of affairs in their regions, and how that impacts their work. Below is a selection of these reports to give you insight into what teams have been doing.
During the period June to August 2020 the chaplaincy team has continued to respond to the increased seafarer demand of “shop to ship”. The frequency of gangway visits continues, with 1072 ship and shop visits made in the last three months, which is an average of over 13 ship visits per day, each will generally involve separate shopping requirements and journeys, packaging and cleaning of all items before taking them to the ship. Due to the intense workload, we have been careful to allow enough rest days amongst the chaplaincy team as we envisage this kind of demand to continue for the foreseeable future. Snacks, Data SIM cards, chocolate, toiletries and small reminders of home seem high on the items requested. Pot noodles remain at the top of the list.
Seafarers visiting the Kwai Chung centre has almost ceased during the month of August due to the stricter lockdown enforced by the authorities. Hopefully, with the easing of restrictions, we will see seafarers returning to the centre.
The good news this month was the fulfilment of three separate crew changes, lots of protocols and restrictions but we did see two vessels with seven crew change and one with three. I met with those (at a distance ) going home, and you could feel and hear not only the excitement but also the trepidation of entering the unknown and what the future may hold. They were more than happy to be going home, but in their minds was also doubts, sailing is their only source of income, and once they were rested and re-energized would they be able to return to the only job they know.
We are happy to report that the government of Kenya has approved our request which we had made to them to allow Seafarers to visit our centre. We have complied with all the conditions that were given to us by the port health department and all the stakeholders. We managed to get plastic seat covers for the van, gun thermometer for testing temperatures and handwashing facilities and all the other requirements.
We have continued to do everything in our ability to support seafarers during this unprecedented time. We have done that by visiting them in the ships and talking to them and assuring them of our prayers and support during this time. Also, we have supported them by providing them with most essential items they need such as Toiletries, Sim cards etc. And also engaging them on our Facebook page and WhatsApp. We pray that the crisis caused by the virus will come to an end soon and all will be well for seafarers.
Amidst stringent restrictions imposed by the government, we managed to get special permission for distributing the essential commodities and PPE items to the needy seafarers and fishermen families affected by the Covid-19 lockdown at Tuticorin, from the Seafarers UK grant. With the help of the local seafarers’ association, we got a marriage hall for this Covid-19 response program.
We had a preparatory meeting with the local volunteers and made several arrangements so that all guidelines issued by the government were strictly followed. In order to avoid overcrowding and disorderliness, we had also issued tokens to each family through the local volunteers in their respective areas. As per the government guidance, we provided the volunteers with the protective face masks and face shields.
Through the local volunteers and parish priests, we identified the needy families, mostly joint families comprising 4 to 8 members with only single earning. 102 families from the seafaring community and 68 from the fishing community received the relief items. Over 1000 families in these communities will benefit from the feeding programme.