The Ministry to Seafarers (M2S)

How a road trip is like seafaring

Imagine that you pile the family into the car to head off to visit grandma over the holidays. It's an 8-hour drive and 4 hours in the kids are driving you nuts and your bladder is about to explode. Oh for some relief and a moment of peace and quiet!

As your mate pulls off the highway you rehearse your agenda: pee, coffee, gas...definitely in that order. The car barely has time to roll to a stop and you yank the door handle to jump out. It's locked. You fiddle with the buttons and madly press the one marked Lock. Nothing works.
You look at your spouse and hear these words, "I've decided nobody is exiting the car. Nobody gets to pee or stretch their legs. We're getting full service gas and we're moving on." You lose your mind and control of your bladder.

Today there are seafarers who have heard words similar to this. They've been at sea for a long while and they're eager for shore leave. They need a change of scenery, to talk to different people, maybe see a dentist, buy some souvenirs for the family back home or exchange some money. But when they dock the captain announces that nobody is leaving the ship. This is more bad news after learning that wages aren't being paid out either.

One desperate seafarer gathers his courage and confronts the captain. He brings a copy of his contract with him to prove he's entitled to shore leave, only to learn that the contract is fake. What to do?

In our port the International Transport Worker's Federation (ITF) inspects ships to ensure that all is as it should be. The Ministry to Seafarers visits ships every day. If we are denied access we find out why. If we suspect there is a problem aboard, we report it to the ITF. Together, we can work for the good of seafarers and honest shipping companies, providing practical care and advocacy where needed.

In a vehicle where everyone belongs to the same family, you can open up a dialog, help each other see everyone's needs and work towards a solution. After all, you only have one family and you must learn to live together and get along.

A ship can be owned by a company headquartered in one country, flagged in a different country and staffed by seafarers from three other countries. When trouble comes, it's easy for the unscrupulous to shirk responsibility.

At M2S we love seafarers and we try to do what's best for them. If you'd still looking for a solid place to donate this Christmas season, we'd love for you to join us in our mission to serve seafarers in 2019. Use the Donate button above.

Written by: Patricia Sarazen
The Ministry to Seafarers

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