Giving back and making a difference in the world can be easier said than done when you work aboard a busy charter yacht. Second Stewardess Eva Church of M/Y Slipstream shared how they still manage to give back, regardless of hectic charter schedules.
“We have an initiative on board (that has been in action for many years) whereby we put aside 2.5 percent of our tips from every trip to be donated to charity,” she says. At the end of the season, the crew discuss which charity or NGO in need they would like to donate to. Their recent meeting debated where to donate the €7,000 they had collected over two-thirds of their current season.
“We chose three charities to donate to, all of which were absolutely blown away by the donations,” Church says. “The NGO that we chose to send the bulk of our donation to is based in South Africa and I realized that, once exchanged, €4,888 is the equivalent of about R90,000. This is a HUGE amount in SA — a donation that would really make a difference.”
Church says she was motivated to share Slipstream’s story after one crewmember asked the captain if he knew of other yachts who did the same. “[This] got me thinking about spreading the word about how such a small contribution (2.5 percent, to be exact!) can accumulate and make the world of a difference to organizations trying to do some good in the world,” Church says, “all in the hopes that we can encourage others in the industry to think about how easy it is to make a massive difference with small and thoughtful sacrifices.”
As for how much of a difference Slipstream has made? Since 2011 when Capt. Phil Stevens initially started his idea, the crew roughly calculated that they have donated approximately $42,000, although Church believes it’s significantly more as the boat has not kept track of every donation.
Over the years, the crew has donated time and money to many causes. A few highlights include charities in Antigua, Uganda, and Dominica. In 2012, M/Y Slipstream donated clothing, toys, and approximately $4,700 to Antigua’s Amazing Grace Orphanage. The 12 crew also helped paint the building, fixed hurricane shutters, and tidied half an acre of surrounding land. They also donated food and sanitary items and returned later in the year and fixed the electricity. Approximately $11,000 to $12,000 was donated in total. The orphanage unfortunately closed in 2014.
The crew also donated to a school orphanage in Uganda in March 2017, after the chief engineer and chief stewardess at the time toured the facility. The boat ultimately donated $10,200 towards supplies like books and food, and then they purchased the land the school was renting as well and donated toward building schoolhouses.
In November 2017, they were moved to help in Dominica after Hurricane Maria, filling the yacht with building materials, medical equipment, clothing, generators, dry food, cleaning items, etc. that were unloaded on the island. Slipstream also helped after Hurricane Irma in 2018, ultimately coordinating with their suppliers in Palma to collect everything from building materials, fuel, tools, food, and medical supplies — filling four guest cabins, the main salon, and the lazarette with donations, Church says.
They have also helped on a more personal level with causes close to their crew: $1,000 to Friends of Parkies, a UK charity that offers support to those diagnosed with Parkinsons as the chief stew’s father was recently diagnosed; to a fund supporting the family of the chief officer after a death in the family, plus, “We recently donated $4,888 (which is just over R90,000!) to a charity close to me — the Hillcrest AIDS Centre,” Church says. “My adopted brother’s biological mother passed away from AIDS complications, so it was really special for me to have contributed to something close to my heart!”
“There is always a valid cause out there and no matter what the figure involved, sometimes it’s recognizing that they need some level of support,” Capt. Stevens says. “It’s easy to do what we do, we’re no trailblazers but we have a focus and if any yacht grabbed the same initiative and tried to get help direct to the source, whether it global or personal, then surely it has to make a difference, however small. We are an incredibly privileged group of people in this industry, and I have a strong feeling about the opportunity we can take to do such things.”
It’s an inspiring record. And that’s the point, Church says — “We hope this will encourage others to adopt a similar initiative and hope that this goes to show how a tiny sacrifice can go a very long way.”