By ANDREW MWANGURA
As we near the most holy time of the year, I want to share some thoughts with you.
Normally, many of us at sea far away from home Christmas with loved is just but a dream!
The rest of us would be preparing to spend this most holiday with family, loved ones and friends. What a difference has been the year 2020!
Cruising has been shut down for more than 8 months.
Seafarers have been stranded aboard merchant ship under tremendous pressures or at home unable to return to their ships and make a living for their families.
We all have known folks who have contracted the Corona virus or worse have died as a result of the virus.
Incredible restrictions have been placed on all of our lives.
Port Chaplains have continued to support crews’ aboard ships despite many restrictions imposed upon them by governments around the world.
All of us have had to restrict our day-to-day lives and normal activities to remain safe and healthy.
We have witnessed anger, violence and divisiveness in society on a scale we never could have imagined before in our life.
Despite all the negatives, we all have weathered the storm so far and we all look forward to a better 2021 and a return to some semblance of normalcy in our lives.
We appreciate the Spanish, Chinese and Namibian fishing companies and Italian, Netherlands and Norwegian cruise ship as well as merchant shipping companies who have employed 450 Kenyan seafarers, we do also appreciate the Danish and Bahir shipping companies for offering sea time to 26 Kenyan cadets’ officers.
By December 2019, four hundred Kenyan youths had been recruited to work aboard MSC cruise ships in the Kenya government program aimed at sending at least 2000 seafarers to sea yearly for the next five years.
Only 250 had, however, boarded their respective vessels while further 150 were yet to embark on their contractual engagement by the time maritime nations closed their borders due to the coronavirus pandemic.
At the same time a batch of 191 Kenyan seafarers had been recruited by the Carnival Cruise Line.
The Holland America cruise line which specializes on cruises to Alaska, Panama Canal and Mexico had recruited 7 Kenyan seafarers to work aboard MV Westerndam.
As we wrap up this challenging year let us stay safe and healthy.
I wish you happy holidays and healthy New Year 2021.