Maritime welfare services recognised

Posted: 19 Aug 2015 11:21:56

The Mission to Seafarers in Africa (MtS) has received a financial boost to develop its nine port-based welfare services thanks to a grant from South Africa’s National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF). MtS Africa is part of the international Mission to Seafarers that operates one of the largest networks of seafarers’ centres and support facilities in 71 countries across the globe.  

The grant of more than R240,000 ($18,600) has been used to part-fund various elements of the region’s work, including a ship visitor in Port Elizabeth, a centre manager in Saldanha Bay and a training programme in post-trauma care so that personnel can support seafarers following a traumatic incident at sea or in port.

“Our region is heavily dependent on the seafarers who transport over 90 per cent of the goods and services we consume,” said the Revd Cedric Rautenbach, Regional Director for MtS Africa. “As a result, we feel that we have a responsibility to provide appropriate welfare services to them when they arrive at any one of our ports from Lagos to Mombasa. Seafarers routinely face extraordinary challenges and dangers, and in the waters around our region, the threat of piracy is never far from mind. The money we have received from the NLDTF has enabled us to ensure our welfare teams are adequately trained to give the best possible assistance to visiting crews.”

The training is already paying dividends. When the M/V African Blackbird arrived in Richards Bay, MtS was on hand to provide critical care and assistance. During the voyage, the ship’s bosun died and the crew were left shocked and traumatised. On arrival, the local chaplain, Mr Mark Classen, provided grief counselling to the crew and arranged a memorial service so they could mark their colleague’s passing. The training Mark has received just a few weeks before proved vital to help the men.

“This important grant from the NLDTF has enabled me and my colleagues across the region to be properly prepared to assist seafarers in situations like these. As a non-governmental organisation, The Mission to Seafarers is wholly dependent on our supporters for donations and grants such as this one. On behalf of MtS Africa, I would like to thank the NLDFT for their support of our work.”

The NLDTF relies on funds from the proceeds of the National Lottery Commission. The Lotteries Act guides the way in which NLDTF funding may be allocated. The NLDTF wants the grants to make a difference to the lives of all South Africans, especially those more vulnerable and to improve the sustainability of the beneficiary organisations. Available funds are distributed to registered and qualifying non-profit organisations in the fields of arts, culture, national heritage and sport and recreation. By placing its emphasis on areas of greatest need and potential, the NLDTF contributes to South Africa’s development.