NPR’s Ailsa Chang speaks with Samson Shekhar Chauhan of the Lutheran Maritime Ministries about his work aiding crew members unable to depart ships due to COVID restrictions and transport delays.


Think about being caught aboard a cargo ship for months, unable to depart. That’s the actuality for lots of of 1000’s of sailors all world wide who’re cooped up on cargo ships resulting from COVID restrictions and transport delays. Many unvaccinated sailors from overseas nations have not been allowed to disembark right here within the U.S. And based on our subsequent visitor, Reverend Samson Shekhar Chauhan, lots of them are determined. Chauhan is with Lutheran Maritime Ministry, and he goes from cargo ship to cargo ship on the ports of Los Angeles and Lengthy Seashore, Calif., that are combating backlogs. He is there to offer help to sailors and crew members.

Welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, Reverend.

SAMSON SHEKHAR CHAUHAN: Oh, thanks. It is a pleasure being with you.

CHANG: While you board these boats, are you able to simply inform me what do you see? Like, what are the circumstances like on board? What are you noticing?

CHAUHAN: Yeah, it appears to be like like sort of cubicles. And after we go go to them, we do not essentially go straight to their small cabins. However many a time, we have now seen these cabins. And to start with, it is like a transferring jail. After which their situation within the vessel typically – they do not have the provisions, the provides, the meals. You realize, in a COVID scenario, the meals situation was actually minimal. So that they had been preserving their meals. They needed to protect their water, and so they solely feed these 22 folks. There is not any one else to feed. Generally they really feel rigidity.

CHANG: Properly, what are these sailors telling you? Why do they search your counsel personally? What are they sharing with you?

CHAUHAN: They’ve very fundamental trauma and household wants and quite common considerations. However they nonetheless confide in us, and so they inform us that they aren’t in a position to see their youngsters, they aren’t in a position to see their wives. A few of them have ailing dad and mom at residence, and they aren’t in a position to take care of them. So that they really feel devastated, lonely and alone that due to COVID, they aren’t in a position to disembark. And since they’re within the waters on a regular basis, then should not in a position to even ship cash residence to help their households. So that they open up about all this trauma that it causes.

CHANG: Is there one particular person’s story that has particularly stayed with you?

CHAUHAN: Yeah, one particular person instructed me that due to the lengthy absence, his spouse was divorcing him and that the particular person was devastated. And he nearly cried in entrance of me. In order that briefly says the traumatic situation which the sailors undergo.

CHANG: What did you say to him when he instructed you that?

CHAUHAN: I simply listened to him, and I felt his ache. After which I supplied a prayer to him. I learn one thing encouraging to him from the Bible, and I assured him that place confidence in God, within the gospel fact, within the scripture, and God will handle it. I hope to see him once more. I need to learn about his situation. However that was one very hanging or touching story that I got here throughout…

CHANG: Yeah.

CHAUHAN: …That an individual was going by means of a divorce due to the lengthy absence.

CHANG: And have you ever seen something fairly like this – sailors being caught at sea for so long as 11, perhaps even 13 months, combating psychological well being points? Have you ever seen something even remotely near what you are seeing now?

CHAUHAN: Not earlier than COVID. Not a lot. After all, they had been struck on the – due to the character of their work, they had been all the time within the vessel and away from the household. In order that was a problem to start with. However due to COVID, it was intensified and so they had been away for an extended interval.

CHANG: Proper now, what message do you need to ship to sailors who’re struggling mightily as they’re nonetheless ready to go residence?

CHAUHAN: The worst is behind us. We’re seeing a brand new daybreak. Maintain on. Have religion as a result of good days are coming. I’ve personally taken just a few folks out within the final three weeks. So my message to all of the sailors is that the worst half is behind us. (Unintelligible) protected, wholesome days are coming. Have religion. Carry on praying. And we’re with them. We’re praying together with them. So good days are coming.

CHANG: That’s Reverend Samson Shekhar Chauhan of the Lutheran Maritime Ministry.

Thanks a lot for being with us, Reverend.

CHAUHAN: Thanks a lot for having me.


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