Vivek & Regina
“You just can’t walk into the docks, like you can in Belfast, that doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world”
Vivek was a seaman with the Merchant Navy from 1972 until his retirement, and Regina worked at the Stella Maris, an international support organisation for seafarers which formerly had a branch in Sailortown, Belfast.
“When I was in Stella Maris there was a Philipino sailor, he was second officer. His ship was somewhere in the Irish sea and he had an accident on board doing something with mooring wires, the wire parted and damaged one of his legs, seriously. He was airlifted to Dundonnel hospital and his leg was amputated. Nobody from the agency goes to see these people because every visit has to be paid for. The Stella Maris jumped into action. This man had an injury, serious but not life threatening, his leg was amputed he would be recuperating for a long long time. Stella Maris said he can stay here, we can raise money so his wife and child can come here and look after him. The Stella Maris raised the money and he lived there for about six months. Of course his sea career was over, in an instant. The ladies of the Stella Maris raised two thousand pounds in 1990 so he could go back and start his life again. he bought a taxi, a jeepney, and called it Belfast.”
“Vivek, we only employ you because you’re from the British merchant navy, and we employ you to train these boys, so that once they’re trained we can sack you.”