Home away from home

GLIMPSE of land just drives out such a huge relief especially when you’re out at sea for more than the usual time expected.

If it’s sailing for a month, half a year or even a night, land assures any seafarer or passenger that “all is good”.

From rough, unwavering and bumpy sails, every seafarer yearns and prays for safe arrival on board.

For a “home away from home” feeling, they look out for the buzzing name of The Mission to Seafarers.

For almost 60 years, The Mission to Seafarers has been operating in Fiji to assist foreign international seafarers when they enter our ports.

The purpose of The Mission to Seafarers is to assist foreign going seafarers when they enter foreign ports and need assistance to contact their families overseas or to deal with minor problems they may have encountered on-board.

Their ever so graceful support, has created a warm atmosphere by providing seafarers with facilities such as mail/internet, money exchange, soft drinks and indoor games just to name a few.

Port Chaplain of The Mission Centre at Kings Wharf, Viti Whippy said she has been involved with The Mission to Seafarers since 1978.

“I have over 30 years experience and my role is to offer help and support, services or simply have an “all ears” when there is a time of crisis for these international seafarers, said Mrs Whippy.

“Here, the presence of The Mission to Seafarers is required.”

Some centres around the world have alcohol which they serve only to the seafarers, others have accommodation that they provide to seafarers when they are changing ships or when they are ready to go home.

In Fiji, we don’t have most of that. Our centre is pretty small and we just have the facilities for them to be able to contact their families back home.”

With over 260 ports, The Mission to Seafarers cares for seafarers of all ranks, nationalities and beliefs and no matter what the seafarer is facing, be it injury, non-payment of wages or personal difficulties, the local mission is where they can turn to.

“Here, at the mission, familiar faces are what they come in and look for, someone they can talk to and I really do enjoy my job around here. It’s not a job, you know you can’t really call it a job; it’s a calling, that’s what it is.

“You need to know how to treat people because in here, we get all different kinds of people who speak different languages, some you can’t understand, you will have to listen very carefully to understand them, you might think that he’s really quiet or unfriendly but that’s because they can’t really speak English, so it’s all about being patient.”

There are people from Ukraine, Russia, Germany, Sri Lanka and even Pacific Islanders such as Kiribati and Papua New Guinea to name a few who use the facilities at the Mission.

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