Stella Maris South Africa secures grant to help seafarers

Around 11,500 seafarers will benefit from support in the ports of Cape Town, Durban, Richards Bay and soon in Port Elizabeth after Stella Maris South Africa was awarded a substantial grant by The Seafarers’ Charity.  

This grant will enable Stella Maris to continue supporting seafarers across these four ports through the local port chaplains and ship and hospital visitors. The main focus of this programme is to meet the pastoral and welfare needs of seafarers, regardless of nationality, belief or race. Thereby improving their mental, physical, and spiritual health and wellbeing and quality of life. 

Our programmes also include the empowerment of and access to employment for seafarers through training and educational programmes; referral of crew and cases of abuse of seafarers to the appropriate Government Offices; growing our capacity and reach by increasing the number of port chaplains and ship visiting volunteers at each port and therefore the numbers of ships visited and seafarers helped.  

Plans to develop the work of Stella Maris in South Africa over the past year were slowed by Covid-19 and national lockdowns. Meanwhile the need for this work has only grown amidst the backdrop of the Crew Change Crisis. With the support of The Seafarers’ Charity we are pleased to have the resource to drive this work forwards.   

In May, Fr Rico Talisic, one of our port chaplains in Cape Town, provided invaluable support to the crew of a fishing vessel after a crew member jumped overboard and drowned. He was only 24 years old. Three of the crew witnessed the suicide and the entire crew were deeply shaken by the incident. Fr Rico supported them with a listening ear and looked after their spiritual needs offering prayers and blessings. Support such as this is hugely important in preventing other crew members becoming depressed and suicidal themselves. 

Fr Herman Gerardo, National Director for Stella Maris South Africa, said, “We are grateful to The Seafarers’ Charity for their ongoing support of our work. This grant will make a huge difference to the lives of the seafarers and their families whom we help.  

“Support from this grant will enable us to continue carrying out our national ship visiting and crew welfare programme across the ports of Cape Town, Durban, Richard’s Bay, and Port Elizabeth (where Stella Maris will soon have a presence) helping more than 11,500 seafarers throughout the year who are struggling with loneliness, exhaustion, bullying and exploitation. We provide them with help when they need it the most.

“Without the support of The Seafarers’ Charity, we would not be able to be there for seafarers in need and we wish to thank them for their grant which makes our work possible.” 

A file photo of Fr Rico distributing supplies to seafarers and fishing crew