Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea) is providing support to six fishing vessel crew members while their ship is detained in Cape Town.
The Yong Qing Fa No. 666 arrived in Cape Town on November 30 but was barred from entering the port and had to drop anchor while it waited to get the greenlight to dock.
The ship was finally allowed to enter the port on December 13. Nicholas Barends, Stella Maris National Director based in Cape Town discovered that the six seafarers – four from Myanmar and two Taiwanese – had very little food and drinking water on board as the ship had run out of supplies while sailing from Senegal to Mauritius.
The vessel turned back and came into Cape Town where it was detained. It had also run out of fuel.
“I provided the crew with warm clothing as they were shivering. Stella Maris also arranged for emergency food supplies to be brought to them. The smiles on the men’s faces when they received these items spoke volumes,” Nicholas said.
“One diabetic seafarer had run out of medication. Luckily we managed to get a doctor on Christmas Day to draw up a prescription and ensure he got the tablets he needed,” Nicholas added. This has now been provided on two occasions to the seafarer.
Stella Maris has also been in contact with the Taiwanese consulate who brought food gift bags to the crew during the recent Chinese New Year celebration.
“Communicating with the Myanmar seafarers has been quite challenging as the Burmese language is not widely spoken but we have been using the internet and a contact in Myanmar to help out with translations,” Nicholas said.
“It is sad that the crew have found themselves in this situation but they are grateful for Stella Maris’ assistance and we will continue to support them until they are safely repatriated. It is all part of Stella Maris’ ministry of the Church in outreach to those on the margins,” he added.
Stella Maris celebrates its Centenary this year. The charity will hold its 25th World Congress from September 29 to October 4 in Glasgow, Scotland where it was founded. (Go here for some details)