Hi, my name is Rev Bobby Chuchuni. I am currently the Chaplain to seafarers, Honiara International Seaport.
Upon taking up my Mission to Seafarers (MTS) duties in January this year, maintaining pastoral duties was my first priority. My first immediate task in office was providing pastoral care to a Chinese national working on board Cargo vessel Uni Harmony who was receiving medical assistance at the National Referral Hospital, Honiara, Solomon Islands with a fractured limb. The office of the MTS, with the minimum resource we have, supplied the seafarer with newspapers and fruits during his healing process.
Pastoral ship visiting was ongoing on-board domestic and international vessels. On early March this year the MTS had been through a challenging situation with the impact of COVID-19. The Solomon Islands Government ordered a mas repatriation of all citizens from Honiara to their home islands. In that exercise, the MV Taimareho, owned by the West Areare constituency was carrying more than 700 passengers caught up in Tropical Cyclone Harold. We lost 27 people at sea when the ferry was nearly capsized. The 27 people who fell off the boat all died and only 6 dead bodies were recovered. An investigation was carried out on the T27 tragedy. The MTS is currently in the process of organising trauma counselling for the sailors.
I am currently working on securing land for our two MTS centres, at Noro Fishing industrial Town and Honiara. The development of these centres will provide required services for sailors.
We celebrated Sea Sunday in honour of the seafarers on Sunday July 5th. This was broadcast live on our national radio (SIBC). Sailors were able to join us on their HF radios throughout the country.
The MTS is greatly affected by the impact of the COVID-19 preparedness plan, although we are still COVID free. Currently boarding is restricted for international boats, travel only possible on domestic vessels.
Visiting, Praying and Sharing is my daily responsibility, however, lately there was a challenge with the MTS 7 year-old vehicle which is now experiencing weekly mechanical failure, undergoing regular weekly maintenance. This is costly for the mission. I am anticipating a new van to ease my mission for the Seafarers, but I don’t know who will come to the rescue.
Rev Bobby Chuchuni. Mission to Seafarers, ACoM