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.

Sub­mit­ted photo by Gea­nine Mul­rooney

Sergiu Orel of the stranded crew on the cargo ship Jana grate­fully ac­cepts do­nated goods.

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