From the BC [CAN] Catholic:
A few years ago, Deacon Dileep Athaide could never have guessed he’d become a frequent visitor on the immense coal and container ships dotting the horizon in Delta and Vancouver.
Yet nearly every day he finds himself donning a hard hat, reflective vest, and steel-toed boots, chatting with security guards who recognize his white collar; and climbing high ladders into cargo ships as a chaplain to seafarers.
“It’s only three years that I’ve been doing this, but it feels like 10 years – in a good way,” Deacon Athaide, 69, told The B.C. Catholic while on board a Japanese coal carrier at Westshore Terminals in Delta.
The crew on this ship – about two dozen in all – are from the Philippines, and have spent months away from their families, religious customs, and country to work.
“For the seafarers, it’s a paradox. In order to look after their families, they leave their families.” They may make anywhere from US$ 12,000 to 150,000 a year, but even those on the lower end of the scale are grateful for the job, since it’s often more than they would make back at home.
Still, the work can be incredibly isolating. Being stuck on a ship several storeys high, thousands of kilometres from home, and at times waiting an entire month to set foot on land, is a daily challenge for seafarers.