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Melanesian Messenger Online distributed by the
Church of the Province of Melanesia
Seafarers Centres to be set up Honiara and Noro
November 1, 2006

[Melanesian Messenger - Melanesia] The Mission to Seafarers Office run by the Church of Melanesia will soon be setting up two new Centers for Seamen in the country with the help of the Maritime Office of the South Pacific Community.

Seafarers Support Officer of the Regional Maritime Programme Office Mrs. Viti Gean Whippy who was in Solomon Islands in September said plans are to establish two Centres in Honiara and Noro ports in the Western province.

She visited and held talks with various authorities including the Solomon Islands Ports Authority, the Marine Department and other Non Government Organisations on the plan.

Viti acknowledged the tremendous work done by the local Seafarers Office in paving the way for the centres to be set up.

"The Marine Department was very supportive of the plan and offered to provide a space for the Centre and an office for the Port Chaplain. The Centre will also network with local NGO?s who will provide information on issues that seafarers need to know about especially HIV and AIDS and STI?s since seafarers are vulnerable to such diseases," she said.

Mission to Seafarers is a ministry aimed at caring for the spiritual welfare of seafarers of all races and creeds and their families.

"The seafarers play an important role in the country therefore they need to be recognised by way of among other things, a central place where they can get together to interact and promote social comfort, moral and spiritual welfare. ?I am very impressed with the work done by the local Seafarers Office in supporting the work of the seamen," she said.

Port Chaplain Fr. Wilson Mapuru said he is confident to get the centre up and running when the office space is ready and the funds made available. Fr. Mapuru, who in the past put a lot of work into finding ways to establish the centre, said this is a breakthrough and a way forward for the ministry.

He thanked local partners to the mission for their support in ensuring that seaferers are recognised on the important role they play in the shipping and transport industry.

The project is funded by the Asian Development Bank.