Paul and Jessie

Paul and Jessie

The following  account is an indication of the selfless work of the International Sailors’ Society and the fact that those called  are willing to rush to ALL who are in trouble, irrespective of creed or culture.

Resulting from a call from Robby van Dyk, the Port Coordinator, Collaborative Border Manager in the Port of Durban, informing CEO Rev Boet van Schalkwyk of the death of a 2nd Officer on board the vessel the “KOTA LAHIR”, ISS, Chaplains Rev Paul Richardson and Mrs Jessie John visited the ship at 0900 on Saturday, 15 March 2014.

The officer, 31 year old Faisal Hameed from Pakistan, died at sea on 7 March approximately 1500 nautical miles from Durban en route to Durban. He was married and had 2 young children

He was in the ship’s hospital and started coughing, which condition deteriorated to the extent of him needing oxygen which he received. Sadly his condition deteriorated further very quickly and at about 0940 he passed away.

Officer Hameed, of the Muslim faith, had been on the ship for 5 months and according to the crew was well liked and respected.

Chaplain Ministry on Board

Mindful of different beliefs, cultures and creeds, in discussion with Chief Officer Ikram, also from Pakistan, he said that of the 27 crew members, only 3 were Muslims, all 3 from Pakistan.

The rest of the crew were Buddhists, Hindu’s and Christians and as a result of their different faiths, a combined meeting with all the crew would not be relevant.

When Rev Paul Richardson asked what could be done for him and his crew, he said “Just pray for them in private prayers”. Rev Richardson and Mrs Johns left behind gospel papers, a DVD and music CD’S.

A death on board a vessel is traumatic as the crew members live in close proximity for a long time. The Chief Officer reported that the crew were in tears when informed of the death of Officer Hameed.

It must have been tough for the Chief Officer as he told Rev Paul and Mrs Johns that he had to go to the deceased’s cabin and pack up his personal belongings to be sent with his remains back to Pakistan.

Heartbreakingly in his suitcase he found presents he had bought for his kids!

The kids will eventually get their presents but not their daddy – a very sad thought.

Chief Officer Ikram also said that as Muslims they believe that Allah knows the day of death of each person, and that helps him understand the death. However when the remains were removed it was very difficult for all.

We thank Rev. Paul Richardson and Mrs Jessie Johns for their support and presence as it must also be borne in mind that the crew do not have recourse to family and friends to share their grief.   Grief remains traumatic, no matter what the belief is, and Paul and Jessie did their duty with sensitivity.