The m/v PACIFIC LINK has been used to serve isolated people throughout the Pacific by delivering health care services and the Christian message. But it has also benefited the citizens it has reached as a training ground for would-be sailors. John Mala, 23, and Malagui Long, 25, are among the Papua New Guineans who have enhanced their maritime skills through volunteering aboard the ship.
Mala, who graduated from Papua New Guinea Maritime College last year, still needed to log sailing hours as part of his ongoing education. He was on a waiting list for placement on a ship, but was likely facing several months of uncertainty. When the PACIFIC LINK began medical outreaches in January from Madang, Mala took advantage of the opportunity to be part of the crew. He said his time on the vessel has been his introduction to seamanship.
“This is my first ship to sail on. The first three weeks I didn’t have any experience, but as the weeks went by I got to learn about the wheelhouse and be the helmsman at times,” Mala said.
Mala, who will be with the PACIFIC LINK until the summer, said his time on the ship has been challenging, but enjoyable.
“We do work, but at the same time it’s fun. Going out to the islands and helping out these people has been a new experience for me. It’s good.”
After graduating from Pacific Maritime College in Port Moresby, the nation’s capital, Long was hoping to do an apprenticeship aboard a ship. None were available. Then he found out about the PACIFIC LINK and decided to sign up. He has been with the vessel since March working in the engine room.
PACIFIC LINK Chief Engineer John Richard oversees Mala and Long. He said they are receiving a significant growth opportunity on the ship.
“These guys are learning a lot here that they would learn in the maritime college,” Richard said.
Both Mala and Long also said that their development as Christians has been as significant as the new skills they’ve learned.
“For three or four years, I haven’t gone to church so the prayer times onboard every morning make me feel a bit closer to God,” Mala said.
To sign up for an outreach aboard the m/v PACIFIC LINK, click here.