I would like to tell you about a meeting in the port of Alexandria / Egypt, my workplace of the German Seafarers Mission. (Www.seemannsmission.org)
On board of one of the many container ships, which I visit, I came up this week with IGME DATU, a 39-year old Filipino seamen. He is now seven months on board. "My only wish is to come back home as soon as possible," he explained to me in broken English. He yearns for his wife, his two children. He haven’t seen them for long time.
But soon it appears that him depressed even more: IGME had experienced horrible things. His ship was asked to help a refugee boat in the Mediterranean Sea. The hopeless overcrowded small boat drifted without guidance in the water.
When they came near to the refugee boat, the crew of the container ship tried by shouting and beckoning the refugees to stay where they are. But it did not help! Your rescue in mind, the people went on the small boat to one side. The refugee boat capsized. Many people felt into the water, shouted for help. "How should how could we help?" Stumbled IGME softly. Container ships have life jackets for the crew and a few lifebuoys; but no proper equipment to save so many people.
IGME Datu and his colleagues had to watch helplessly as the majority of refugees drowned. Only a few were rescued and later handed over to an official lifeboat. The remembrance gives tears to seaman’s eyes. The shouts and scenes are entering into the soul - images that seamen like IGME will never forget.
But how does a sailor handles such horrible experiences? Accepting and continue working? On board there are no psychologists! To discuss your fears and concerns with colleagues? No! On board you are too close together. Alleged weakness has no place.
Dear donor, with your help, we leave seafarers like IGME not alone! Whenever the board radio signaled: "Seamensmission on board!" there is running a smile on the seafarers faces - a glimmer of hope in the merciless daily work. My colleagues in the Mediterranean Sea and I experienced a massive increase of fears and worries by the sailors. During our board visits, we try to help in many small or big conversations. But the large number of traumatized sailors overwhelms our small team massive.
The Lutheran Church in Germany supports the Seamensmission, but the Church's financial resources are limited and has even to be reduced in the next years.
The sailors need urgently our care. Please help: Show seafarers like IGME a sign of humanity - side by side with the Seamen's Mission!
Thank you on behalf of seafarers!