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Sharing strength and hope to Filipino seafarers

Sharing strength and hope to Filipino seafarers
Yashika F. Torib September 22, 2021

Seafarers are known to be physically and mentally resilient individuals. Their grit and tenacity at sea are legendary so much so that people at shore mostly pay little attention to their well-being. For many, sailors are invincible. In the eyes of Rachelle Lopez, however, there is only so much that a person can take. As someone who personally understands the burden of multiple responsibilities, she knows that even heroes get tired.

"Coping is very difficult when you don't have enough support system to guide you in your journey," Lopez, president of the Worldwide Maritime Operations Company (WMOC), said about the struggles seafarers endure in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lopez speaks from experience. She has personally witnessed how shoulders sagged and hopes were snuffed when seafarers who were about to be deployed were suddenly told to stay behind because they tested positive from COVID-19.

"It is not enough that we simply help them get a job at sea. We also have to be there every step of the way and try to ease their woes." Lopez was so moved by the sight of dejected seafarers that she took it upon herself to distribute food and hygiene packs to those who were unexpectedly rendered jobless and sick with COVID-19. She also personally cooked and distributed hot meals to seafarers

While her company mainly deals with providing Onboard security to vessels transiting to high-risk areas and assists with the issuance of licenses and endorsements certificates for seafarers onboard Panamanian-registered vessels, Lopez opted to go out of her way to closely coordinate with the City Health Office of Manila and the Manila Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Units (RESU) to find a clean and convenient place for seafarers to spend their quarantine days in.