As part of the worldwide family of the Mission to Seafarers and Apostleship of the Sea, we are here to serve seafarers coming into the Port of Kobe; of all nationalities, backgrounds and religions without distinction. A large part of our work is done visiting the ships and talking to the crew when they arrive in port. Sometimes we have to help them deal with particular problems that arise from their work on board ship, issues concerning their constant moving from port to port and from country to country, spending months away from home, families and loved ones.
Sometimes these problems are psychological; related to stress and anxieties on board, when they want to talk things over with somebody different. Other times they can be disputes or misunderstandings with the ship-owner or employer which need mediation or clarification. Problems with human rights and living and working conditions need to be addressed.
When a seafarer is hospitalized, we can provide visits, to ease the pain and loneliness of being in hospital in an unknown country, a friendly comforting face. When there is a death of a seafarer or a family member at home, we can offer comfort and if a seafarer is arrested for infringement of the law, they are visited and assured of their legal rights.
When a ship comes into port we try to visit them; to welcome them to Kobe, to give them information about the city and places to go, to answer questions they have and give them the latest news and sporting results. We talk but more importantly listen to any problems they may have. We aim to be a friendly face in an unknown place. With faster turnaround times for their ships, seafarers are often unable to get ashore, even to do something as basic as phone home, so we help them with this and also distribute books, magazines, newspapers and Bibles, making long periods at sea more bearable.
For those who are
lucky enough to stay alongside overnight and able to spend time
ashore, we provide transport from their vessels to and from our Centre
in Motomachi. Often seafarers will use this as a chance to go shopping
or sightseeing, knowing that they will have no problems returning to
their ship. More often than not they just seek some normality in
their abnormal lives. The Centre offer a place to relax, have a
drink and contact home, through reasonably-priced international
pre-paid telephone cards. We can exchange most major currencies
and also offer table-tennis and billiards, our local staff are able to offer advice about shops,
restaurants and other facilities within Kobe. Integral
to the Centre is the Chapel of St. Andrew which is open to
everybody for private prayer or meditation. Through all this we
hope that seafarers can return to their ships feeling refreshed.