(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) — The life of a sailor has been romanticized in books, movies and even songs. However, living on the high seas is anything but romantic. There are long days filled with difficult and dangerous work, and months spent away from family and friends. Yet, few people realize what an important role seafarers play in the world’s economy.
Each year, more than 12 billion tons of goods are shipped by 1.5 million seafarers worldwide. Without these hard-working men and women, the bulk transportation of important raw materials, food, medicine and manufactured goods (about 90 percent) would not be possible. That’s why each year on June 25 we celebrate the International Day of the Seafarer.
Seafarers’ House at Port Everglades will be celebrating with the help of students from South Broward High School’s Marine Magnet Program, Port Everglades personnel, the Seafarers’ International Union (SIU) Fort Lauderdale Chapter, and representatives of area maritime-friendly congregations.
Marine magnet program students will meet on Friday, June 23, at 10 a.m. at Seafarers’ House Casa (1800 S.E. 32nd St. Port Everglades) and begin their morning with a tour of Port Everglades, along with a visit to the harbor master’s tower. The group will return to the Seafarers’ House Casa for lunch, at which time Seafarers’ House will kick off its annual Shoebox Christmas program.
Anna Silva, business development manager for Total Marine Solutions and a former second mate who sailed for several years aboard tugs that took her all around the U.S. and through the Panama Canal, will be guest speaker. Silva, who was responsible for the safe navigation of the tug and tow, will tell students about what life at sea was like for a female mariner.
This year’s theme is “Seafarers Matter” emphasizing that seafarers and their work matter to all of us. This year the International Maritime Organization has indicated that they wish to particularly engage ports and seafarer centers to demonstrate how much seafarers matter to them. The idea is for ports and seafarer centers to share and showcase best practices in seafarer support and welfare.
“Seafarers’ House is based at Port Everglades, one of the leading container ports in Florida. It is a gateway for international trade and has consistently ranked among the top three busiest cruise ports in the world,” said Seafarers’ House Executive Director Lesley Warrick. “Our mission is to ensure that the people who work aboard these ships, as well as the port community, have a safe place to go when they need spiritual and emotional support, or simply want to stop in to use our free Wi-Fi to connect with loved ones. As part of our mission, we also take advantage of every opportunity to let the broader community know about the maritime community and, as in the case of these students — the career options the maritime world may hold for them.
“Each year Seafarers’ House delivers about 1,500 shoe boxes filled with everything from socks and work gloves to toothpaste and shaving cream, all of it donated,” said the Rev. Ron Perkins, Seafarers’ House chaplain. “Bringing holiday cheer to mariners working aboard ships and away from home during the holidays is just one of the ways the community can thank these mariners for their hard work and dedication.”
The Day of the Seafarer, which is one of the annual United Nations observances, was first established in 2011 by the International Maritime Organization. Since then, the IMO has found different ways to pay tribute to the world’s mariners and to thank them for their untold number of contributions, not only to the world economy, but also to all of society.
For additional information, visit www.seafarershouse.org.