Global tribute concert to salute seafarers and raise awareness to crew change crisis
“Heroes at Sea” Initiative Raises Awareness and Funds for Seafarer Welfare
|The COVID-19 pandemic has irrevocably changed the world and how people perceive those now known as “essential workers.” |
As nurses and doctors fought to save people’s lives from this deadly virus, other essential and frontline workers also helped society from collapsing by continuing to facilitate access to medicine, food, clothing, and more.
Healthcare providers, caregivers, workers required for infrastructure, support service, administrative and security, workers required to support transportation, workers needed to provide food services, reprocessing of medical equipment, and waste management and more.
All of these people are now known as essential workers and are the very people who prevented our society from coming to a complete halt when the world paused, and things shut down.
There is no doubt that this year has been an exhausting one for all essential workers. Not to mention the risk they take every time they go to work. However, a group of people crucial to global society has remained mostly forgotten: seafarers.
Seafarers are responsible for the transportation of all the goods. The ones that make their way from ships, to ports, to trucks and beyond. Thanks to them, we receive over 90 percent of all the goods we use each day.
However, during the pandemic, they have been as stranded as astronauts in space. Crews have stayed on ships several months after they were supposed to disembark, and the effects on their mental health have been tremendous. Feelings of stress and uncertainty have risen among mariners as they struggle with the uncertainty of when they will be able to go home. A report from a British charity, the Seafarers Hospital Society, stated that suicides had become the number one source of deaths on board ships during the pandemic.
Despite their profession’s critical and international nature, seafarers are still not universally recognized as essential workers.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Finland has been the only country to designate seafarers as essential workers, allowing crew changes to occur and giving mariners from neighboring countries options to get home. In September, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, urged governments to formally designate mariners as “key workers” to facilitate safe crew changes.
Some countries have recognized them as essential workers and have allowed some––albeit limited––disembarking and crew changes so that they can try to make their way home to their families. However, not all can do so easily.
Travel has been severely limited between countries to prevent the spread of the virus, so those who can disembark in foreign countries have a tough time getting back home, sometimes being stranded in their host country for weeks or months at a time. However, by recognizing seafarers as essential workers universally, the hope is that crew changes will occur, even if they take more time than they usually would.
In response to the lack of awareness of what seafarers worldwide are doing for global society and their hardships, ship owners, port authorities, CEOs, and more have come together to produce the Heroes At Sea initiative.
The initiative invites participants to walk, jog, cycle, or swim distances, which collectively circumnavigate the globe.
The initiative is a tribute to seafarers and their journeys around the globe. It raises awareness for the current crew change crisis as they continue to deliver food, goods, medical supplies, energy and more. Participants were encouraged to submit messages of support and gratitude to seafarers. Several CEOs, ship owners, lawyers, port authorities, and more also posted encouraging messages to seafarers to show solidarity and support.
Organized by Fredrick James Francis and spearheaded by Chief Evolution Officer for SHIPPINGInsight and NAMEPA Co-Founder/Executive Director, Carleen Lyden Walker, the initiative also featured a virtual global concert on Dec. 21. The concert featured a message from IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim, followed by several artists and performers such as Linda and Max Surin from Tokyo Square, Mel Ferdinands from Gypsy, Raz from NationOne and more.
A minimum of 90% of funds raised from participants will go to Mission to Seafarers, the Mission to Seafarers Singapore, the Singapore Nautical Institute and the World Maritime Heritage Society. The hope is that the funds will help mariners while they remain on their ships. Seafarers need to have constant access to medical supplies, mental health services and hygiene products so that, while they might have to stay on their vessels, they will not have to remain on them without the things they need to go about their day to day lives.
This year has been terrible for many. However, it is primarily because of seafarers that we still received medical supplies and goods that we need––all over the world from across the globe. Therefore, the Heroes At Sea initiative is a welcome effort to show seafarers how much they matter to us.
The initiative will culminate as a virtual global countdown to the new year with a final tribute concert on Dec. 31 at 11 p.m.
Fundraising efforts will end on Jan. 3, so register to participate today.