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SeafarerHelp supports seafarers’ loved ones too

February 14, 2019
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ISWAN’s SeafarerHelp is a free, confidential, multilingual helpline for seafarers and their families, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

SeafarerHelp was contacted by the wife of an Indian seafarer who was worried about her husband. He was currently on a vessel in the United Arab Emirates and had been experiencing chest pains, but he had not received appropriate medical attention on board and his wife had lost contact with him. The ship’s internet connection was unreliable and the seafarer’s wife had received no response from his crewing agency and employer in India when she tried contacting them. The seafarer needed to be repatriated for further medical care.

The SeafarerHelp team began trying to reach the seafarer using different channels. His wife was distressed so the team provided emotional support and kept in regular contact with her. When the SeafarerHelp team finally made contact with the seafarer using WhatsApp, they established his current situation. The seafarer reported that he was not allowed to make phone calls and had not been given a cash advance, which made communication with both his family and the SeafarerHelp team very difficult.

SeafarerHelp is available on WhatsApp on +44 (0)7909 470732 (Monday - Friday, 08:00 - 18:00 UK time)

The SeafarerHelp team reassured the seafarer that they would alert other organisations that could assist him. With the seafarer’s consent, the team contacted ISWAN’s Regional Representative in India to look into getting him repatriated as quickly as possible. They also contacted the Mission to Seafarers in the region to see if the charity was able to provide any additional assistance.

ISWAN’s Regional Representative in India contacted the shipping company, which confirmed that a visa was being organised for the seafarer so he could sign off. However, the vessel was at the outer port limit and the shipping company was still working with port agents to try to get the seafarer off before the ship sailed for the next port.

In the meantime, the seafarer had contacted the SeafarerHelp team to say he was feeling worse – he was suffering from heavy breathing and hadn’t been able to eat anything since the day before. The SeafarerHelp team updated him and continued to provide emotional support, and finally the port agreed that the captain could bring the ship into the inner port so the seafarer could be medically evacuated.

Throughout the process, the SeafarerHelp team was in regular contact with the seafarer’s wife to keep her updated and reassured that efforts were being made to get her husband back home safely to her and their 3-year-old daughter.

Later on, the SeafarerHelp team was informed by ISWAN’s Regional Representative in India that the seafarer had reached home safely and was under the care of his doctor. The seafarer and his wife thanked SeafarerHelp for the ‘immense support and help’ the team had provided.

The SeafarerHelp team was able to help in this situation thanks to ISWAN’s presence in India and the cooperation of our network of contacts, but also the helpline’s 24-hour service where someone is always available to help a seafarer or family member in need.

All the contact details for SeafarerHelp can be found at seafarerhelp.org. Make a note of our details or save them on your phone in case you ever need us.

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