Christmas home comforts for stranded seafarers

The stranded crew of the ship MV Malaviya Seven, currently detained at Aberdeen port, spent Christmas day ‘home away from home’ – thanks to the generous parishioners of St Joseph’s Church.  
              The parish’s Indian community treated the Indian seafarers to a home-cooked meal, music and games. They organised the get-together after hearing about the crew’s plight. 
              Laura Ferns parishioner from St Joseph's Church Woodside said, “We have been following this story for some months now and had recently invited some of the crew members to a Goan evening two weeks ago for the St Francis Xavier Mass celebration, food, music and dancing”. 
              Laura said, “The local community wanted to share their Christmas Day by organising a Dinner and Dance party for the seafarers, many who have now been on board the vessel for eight months”
              The 13 men were detained in the Aberdeen port over six months ago, and are still outstanding wages by its owners. They are currently being supported by Doug Duncan, Aberdeen port chaplain for Apostleship of the Sea (AoS). 
              Doug has been providing them with warm clothing and provisions – thanks to the generosity of the Goan community – but more importantly, providing pastoral support by listening to their worries and offering some relief the daily stresses and strains. 
The Malaviya Seven crew at a gathering in Aberdeen

               “They are stuck in a ship at a port hundreds of miles away from their families with no end in sight so far to the situation, so it is an anxious and stressful time for them. Nevertheless they are in good spirits and it’s good to know AoS and the local community are making them feel part of a wider family especially during Christmas,” said Doug. 
               He has been taking the crew out to various places – including to the Russian Choir performance in St Peter's in Aberdeen, and the Crowning of the statue of Our Lady of Aberdeen in St Mary’s Cathedral – to give them relief from the environment of ship and port. 
               In November, Doug organised a visit by Bishop of Aberdeen, Hugh Gilbert OSB, who went on board the ship to bless it and meet the crew. Bishop Hugh then spent time speaking to the seafarers and shared a meal with them. 
               Doug added, “The local community has been amazing and very generous by coming forward to help by buying groceries and toiletries. Only the other day I visited them and a bag of groceries had been left for the crew on the gangway. It is obvious now that things are getting a little tense on board but we continue to provide the love and care that is needed required in this difficult situation”.