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AoS supports stranded crew
02nd July 2015
Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) provided support for a group of seafarers who were left stranded on board their ship for more than three months at Newport docks.
Barbara Thomas, AoS ship visitor in Cardiff visited the ship, Sunflower E, regularly to provide them with material, spiritual and emotional support.
“I spent time speaking to the crew about their concerns, their families and ensuring they had the means to make contact with home. Although food was provided, I brought food for a diabetic crew member. Parishioners in my own parish - St Philip Evans in Cardiff - also gave cash donations to the crew,” she said.
The Sunflower E, an Italian cargo ship, was detained at Newport in March after legal claims were made against it. The crew from Philippines, Indonesia and Romania, had also not been paid their wages since January.
Barbara said that one Filipino crew member was seriously ill on arrival at the port and ended up having chemotherapy in hospital.
“I visited him there and used my contacts with some of the local Filipino community to see him regularly before he was flown home,” she said, adding that they also helped the rest of the crew with cash, gifts and meals.
When the ship’s boiler broke down, Barbara arranged for the crew to have hot showers at the YMCA in Newport. “The crew were on a rollercoaster of emotions as promises of ‘good news tomorrow’ always seemed to be ‘tomorrow’ and the longer they were stranded, the more disheartened they became,” said Barbara.
“Visits became increasingly important to them and a chance for them to vent their feelings was vital in keeping them going. They were assured that they were not forgotten and that everything possible was being done and would be done to help them.”
Barbara also provided three crew members with transport to and from Mass at St Patrick’s Church in Newport. She arranged for a crew member to attend the Romanian Orthodox Midnight Mass for the Orthodox Easter celebration.
She organised for local Catholics to provide transport to Mass on Sundays for crew members wishing to attend. This invitation was taken up almost every Sunday from Easter until they were repatriated on June 25. They were invited back to peoples’ houses for Sunday lunch too – something they really appreciated.
“At the International Mass at St Patrick’s, they were invited to speak to the congregation about their plight and a collection was taken for them. Some parishioners in Newport also brought gifts of toiletries and games for them to play,” said Barbara.
She added. “The crew were invited to join the ‘Family Group’ social event held in my parish, – a skittles match – after Mass one Sunday in May and gifts of food, toiletries and cash were given to them.”
AoS also provided the crew £500, a grant from The Guild of Benevolence of the IMarEST. The donation allowed them a little pocket money after so long without.
The crew were repatriated on June 25 and are now reunited with their families. In an email, one crew member writes, “I am home now. It was quite a long flight but worth it because I'm with my family right now.
“One good thing that’s come out of me being stuck for three and a half months was I found friends and met good people like you. I will always remember and cherish all the good things you've done to all of us. Thank you so much and God bless each one of you and your families.”
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