Photo provided by Mission to Seafarers
Seafarers are the hardworking men and women who work aboard cargo and cruise ships, playing a critical role in the growth of global commerce. Three-quarters of American foreign trade is transported by sea and seafarers are the human faces behind the food we eat, the oil we use in our cars and the cement in the sidewalks we tread. Seafarers bring in 6 million containers a year, 3.7 million vehicles and 53
percent of our nation’s oil.
The economy at Port Everglades is thriving thanks to rapid growth in the number of cargo and cruise ships that call here. Most of the mariners today are foreign nationals – men and women from over 100 countries use the services at Seafarers’ House.
The Seafaring Life
Seafarers work long hours, often under lonely, perilous conditions. Signing on for year-long contracts at sea in order to support loved ones at home, mariners must deal with isolation, stress, dangerous conditions and increasing incidents of piracy in certain parts of the world.
We find most crew now come from countries where unemployment is very high and the jobs they find with cargo and cruise lines provide the means to support their families and build futures for them. In addition to being so far from home, seafarers are nearly invisible to the societies they serve, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation.
A Safe Haven
Seafarers’ House is a member of a 185-year-old maritime ministry tradition that welcomes strangers to the world’s ports. Mariners crossing our threshold flock to our low-cost international phones to reconnect with loved ones across the globe. They buy native foods in our store, mail letters home, safely and reliably send home their hard-earned cash, read newspapers from home, catch up on e-mail in our Internet café or relax with a cup of coffee, a book or a friend in our lounge.
Food for the Soul
Mariners also come to Seafarers’ House seeking ‘food for the soul’ knowing that they can access ordained ministers as well as clergy of other faiths, attend services in our chapel or speak in confidence with someone about their problems and sorrows. Our ministry in the public space of a major seaport includes an ecumenical cooperation among Christians, Jews and Muslims.
Behind the Scenes
A collaborative partnership of staff, volunteers and financial supporters, including religious congregations, maritime unions and businesses, civic organizations and individuals, enable Seafarers’ House to fulfill its mission of help and hope. We are grateful to these friends who give witness to God’s love among more than 100,000 mariners visiting our center each year.