Jim

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I had not seen Jim for a very long time but as he used to, he greeted me in French with a big smile on his face. Jim used to work in the same school as me as a CDT technician. What I did not know is that prior to his work in my school, he used to be a chief engineer on large merchant ships and travelled all over the world for 40 years.

Now retired, Jim is a volunteer of the Seamen’s Society. He helps merchant seamen while they are marooned in a foreign port for example he takes them to the supermarket during the week, sightseeing at the weekends and to the Cathedral on Sunday. He makes sure they have phone cards and access to the internet to contact their relatives. “I can help someone else because I know what it’s like being in a port in another part of the world.” Jim said to me as we arrived at Leith Docks.

Not only he allowed me to take his portrait for my project but he also introduced me to the crew of the Union Gem. The Union Gem is a bulk carrier carrying cement. Manuel, Josef, Antoñio and Carlos are from Cape Verde. The company they worked for has gone into liquidation and their boat has been arrested and is stuck in Leith docks. They are now waiting to be paid and for another company to buy the ship. Nevertheless, they still work hard to maintain the Union Gem.

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Cela faisait plusieurs années que je n’avais pas vu Jim mais c’est toujours avec le même sourire qu’il m’accueillit. Nous travaillions dans le même lycée, il était technicien. Ce que j’ignorais, c’est qu’avant cet emploi, il était ingénieur en chef sur les navires et  qu’il voyagea autour du monde pendant quarante ans.

Aujourd’hui, il est à la retraite et fait du volontariat pour une oeuvre de charité qui aide les marins durant leurs séjours dans les ports. En arrivant sur les quais de Leith, Jim me dit “Je peux aider car je sais ce que c’est que de se retrouver dans un port dans une autre partie du monde.”

Je l’ai donc pris en photo sur les quais puis il m’a présenté à l’équipage de l’Union Gem. Manuel, Josef, Antoñio et Carlos viennent de Cap-Vert. La compagnie pour laquelle ils travaillent vient de faire faillite et leur bateau ne peut quitter les quais de Leith. Ils attendent de recevoir leurs salaires et qu’une autre compagnie rachète le bateau.  Néanmoins, ils continuent de travailler dur et d’entretenir l’Union Gem.

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