Many may remember the shipping disaster which took place in July 2017 when the chokka fishing vessel, the Maredon capsized off St Francis Bay
Of the 16 crew members, seven were rescued; five were missing for more than a week and four crew members were confirmed deceased.
The Sailors’ Society Crisis Response Network under the coordination of Rev Boet van Schalkwyk and chaplains from Cape Town and Port Elizabeth counselled and debriefed survivors and families.
Sailors’ Society, however, did not forget them. They continued to counsel them and supported the widows with 3 months supply of groceries and electricity coupons. Mrs Linda van Schalkwyk did entrepreneurship training to help them earn an income to support themselves.
When visiting the widows on 5 June 2018 they found that a further seafarer’s widow had been traced and she was delighted at being included in the programme [she had been pregnant at the time of the disaster and needed help with the addition of a new baby]. One widow is now self supporting and food coupons will continue for 3 more months. In addition plans to present a Wellness at Sea training programme in Cape St Francis for fishing fleet crews is being considered.
Rev and Mrs Van Schalkwyk will return in November and follow up.
Although the situation was tragic, it is so important that those helped are not forgotten. As it is, some good has arisen through the sadness.