GUEST VIEWPOINT: Port-Based Welfare Provision: It’s About Collaboration

Find out about your local seafarers’ welfare organization and see what you might be able to bring to the table.

By Jason Zuidema, North American Maritime Ministry Association—

In ports around North America, more than 70,000 Christmas gifts were given this past Christmas. A warm hat and gloves, some toiletries, perhaps a bit of chocolate – a small gift to show seafarers far from home that they are not alone during the holiday season.

But that gift is only one of the many ways kindness is shown. Most seafarers’ welfare centers also give free or low-cost transport to local shopping and welcome seafarers’ to a center where they can relax, use free Wi-Fi or sit back for a friendly conversation with staff and volunteers.

But how do seafarers’ centers do it? Where do they find the resources for all this generosity?

Visitors sometimes assume that seafarers’ centers are funded by governmental programs or a single benefactor with deep and generous pockets. Those situations are extraordinarily rare. Despite appearing to be one seamless organization from the outside, many partners typically contribute to the operation and support of a single seafarers’ center, including both institutions and individuals. When it comes to seafarers’ welfare in the port environment, the service provided arises from a web or a network for the benefit of seafarers.

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