International Sailors Society
The Sailors Society, (also known as the International Sailors’ Society of South Africa) which is today a nationwide organisation, had small beginnings.
It owes its origin to Marie Schultz, the wife of Durban’s first doctor who distributed books and tobacco amongst seamen, and cared for shipwrecked mariners, forming around her a band of helpers, some 130 years ago.
Wars and other tumultuous situations in the country occurred over the years which further formed the Society into what it is today. However, one aspect remained paramount – the services to those at sea and in the ports.
This work has continued ever since and has subsequently been extended to other ports in South Africa. Today, more than 300 000 seafarers visit South African ports annually and the services of the Sailors Society are in greater demand than ever before.
The need for these services has arisen as a result of:
- The pressures of globalisation of the shipping industry and the employment of multi-national crews result in language difficulties;
- Ships sailing under flags of convenience where safety standards may be compromised, with irregular payment of the crew and their abandonment should the company fold causes untold misery to crews;
- Long periods of separation from home when the seafarer is faced with loneliness, physical and mental abuse, natural dangers and disasters at sea and illness are traumatic
COMMITMENTS OF THE ISSSA
- Ministering to the needs of Seafarers on the South African seaboard irrespective of nationality, gender, culture or faith, through a Christian ministry that is relevant to the ever changing maritime environment.
- Operating centres and facilities in South African ports in conjunction with other such organisations for the comfort and needs of the seafarer
- Maintaining Chaplains and Port Missionaries in ports in Southern Africa who are specially selected and trained for this unique ministry.
- Offering a holistic service to seafarers at no cost to them or their employers
Are essential in the life of the seafarer, offering:
- A warm welcome
- Telephones to contact home
- E-mail facilities
- Foreign exchange
- A small shop to obtain toiletries and other necessities
- A relaxed and safe environment away from the ship
- Sports and recreation
- Regular church services and counselling
Over many years the ISSSA has established a reputation among seafarers, shipping companies and the maritime industry in general for its integrity and reliability.
Seafarers confide in the chaplains and make extensive use of their services, which not only benefits them, but also their families, the ship owners and industries that transport their goods by sea.
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