Locals help foreign crew stuck in Argentia
You would never say the crew of the Jana were almost out of drinking water, food, toilet paper and toothpaste just a few weeks ago given how they are describing their temporary home today.
“They said they feel like their boat has docked in heaven,” says Geanine Mulrooney.
Mulrooney is originally from Placentia and lives in St. John’s. Like many people, she was shocked to learn a couple of weeks ago that the crew of the Jana are still in Argentia, since the public first heard about their troubles during the summer.
The cargo ship pulled into Argentia with the main engine prop busted. They have been left there by the now-former owner ever since, with no pay.
A couple of weeks ago, a news conference was held at the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) office to let people know the crew members are in hard shape.
‘Literally starting to starve’
“I couldn’t get over that there were 11 men next door to where I grew up and they were literally starting to starve,” says Mulrooney.
She also knew that was only because people didn’t know how much the crew was in need. She started a Facebook page and set up dropoff areas in St. John’s and Placentia where goods and clothing could be donated.
The response was both overwhelming and uplifting. Winter clothing, cooked meals and money for supplies have been donated by people and groups in and out of the province.
Arrangements were even made for some crew members who were out of medication to see a doctor. Their prescriptions were also donated to them.
Laptops were even donated so the men might be able to contact their families overseas. Some of the Ukrainian crew have family in areas of increasing political strife and are worried for their safety. The crew can’t simply fly home because if they leave the ship, they may never get the tens of thousands of dollars they are owed and which their fam- ilies back home need.
For a few moments when the goods were dropped off, some of those worries seemed to disappear.
“The smiles on their faces,” Mulrooney says, adding the men were speaking in their own language very excitedly and said in broken English that they were grateful to be treated like friends and family in a foreign country.
Sergiu Orel of the stranded crew on the cargo ship Jana gratefully accepts donated goods.