Former ship captain from Chennai wins award from Sailors’ Society

Manoj Joy

A sailor’s life is tough. ‘Unpredictable’ is one word that fits their life to a T. Thus, at a time when the safety of Indian sailors who are abroad is uncertain, a former ship captain, Manoj Joy (53), is striving his best to support them legally in addition to doing a lot of social service on the shore.

Acknowledging the hard work he does for sailors’ welfare, the Sailors’ Society which is London-based and over 100 years old, recently presented him its prestigious International Unsung Hero award. In a chat with News Today he speaks about his journey thus far.

Excerpts from his interview:
How did you develop interest in maritime?
I am originally based out of Thiruvananthapuram (currently settled at Srinivasan Nagar in Madipakkam). During my childhood days, my father used to take me to Marina Beach and show me the ships on the farthest end of the beach. Looking at the ships, the waves and, most importantly, the horizon of the ocean, I often used to ask my dad whether we can go beyond that line. Soon, this longing developed into a passion which brought me to where I am now.

Let us know about your life as a captain and thereafter.
I did my schooling at Kendriya Vidyalaya, Avadi, after which I joined a shipping course. I got a job as a ship captain soon after my studies in 1983. My long journey, which lasted till 2001, had a lot of dips, crests and adventures. But, I had to wind up due to commitments at home as working in a ship isolates us from our families for months.

After getting voluntary retirement, I started performing social services in the city by joining hands with like-minded people which included free medical help for sailors through Voluntary Health Services (VHS) and legal support for those stranded abroad. I also served the locality running a free neighbourhood newspaper for few years.

Sailors’ Society Sarah Summers (right) receiving the award on behalf of Manoj Joy at an event held recently in London.

How did you get associated with Sailors’ Society.
In 2002, I started a monthly magazine called Waves, bringing to light all that happens on the ocean especially the developments and problems of the sailors. In a bid to take this initiative even forward, in 2005, I started a helpline number for sailors along with my legal team to address their issues and bring them to our country safely via legal proceedings both in High Court as well as the Supreme Court. I got a membership at the Sailors’ Society after I became more relevant in this field. My initiatives continued for years and, in March 2016, I became Chennai’s port chaplain for the society. Last year, I also became the society’s community development manager for India.

Tell us about your recent achievements.
Every year, Sailors’ Society acknowledges the efforts of its members in helping each other at work and hands them over the Unsung Hero Awards as part of its Safety at Sea Awards. The award goes to one of the shortlisted six-member finalists. At a time when I was clueless about about my entry into the final round, I went ahead and won the award. In addition to this, previously my documentary film, Man without a Nation, won International Film Festival Award in Cambodia.

Talk us through your future plans.
The misery faced by Indian sailors worldwide is on the rise. This year, over 15 sailors died in Russia and one sailor in Iran. So, in the near future, my service will continue with even greater vigour for worldwide welfare of sailors.

Contact Manoj Joy at 73587 02482.

S Ben Raja