Alex and Toon

Chaplains: common sense, not therapy

Chaplains’ responses to seafarers affected by piracy requires common sense, not therapy. ¬†Pastors should be professional in fulfilling their¬†limited but crucial role, and establish themselves as a vital resource. ¬†

The ICMA Regional Conference in Odessa was addressed by the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme. ¬†Toon van de Sande delivered a paper to raise awareness of the Programme’s work and its ideals for ICMA’s continued partnership.

Toon van de Sande (pictured with Alexander (left), the MPHRP representative in the Ukraine) was previously a chaplain of the ICMA member Stichting Pastoraat Werkers Overzee, emphasised the need for training in appropriate responses to seafarers affected by piracy. ¬†The Programme valued highly ICMA’s participation in the industry-wide alliance to care for seafarers and maritime families affected by piracy. ¬†ICMA was a founding partner of the MPHRP. The need for a continuum of care, a concept devised by psychologist Dr. Marion Gibson, is central to understanding responsiveness to the humanitarian needs of seafarers in crisis. The role of chaplains can best be described as humanitarian first aid. ¬†Welfare response is common sense, not therapy.¬†Chaplains are chaplains, not lawyers, inspectors, mental health professionals, or anything but chaplains. ¬†Our work has limitations, but has immense value. Chaplains should limit themselves to their role, and be the best they can be in delivering that role. ¬†Evidence suggests that the role of chaplains may reduce the eventuality of complications after traumatic events. Van de Sande explained his experience of working with the industry as chaplain to the Dutch dredging industry, ¬†responding to crises in dredging companies. ¬†The conference deduced that the chaplains should aspire to be included in first- and emergency responder teams. The problem is that the industry is not sufficiently aware of what chaplains can contribute. ¬†First emergency and welfare response should be demonstrated and be delivered with professionalism. ¬†The ideal is that pastors will be recognised for their crucial role and professionalism in delivering support. A standard of professional conduct for pastors was suggested to the MPHRP by a workshop of chaplains held in Durban in 2012.

ICMA continues to support all initiatives to counter piracy and to support seafarers and their families who are affected by piracy.