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Dear Mr President, please help bring my daddy home

BUSIA
By | December 24th 2010

By PHILIP MWAKIO

"There is no Christmas without my dad around me,’’ 14-year-old Javan James Yavesa says nonchalantly, then stares stonily ahead.

"Please tell President Kibaki to make direct contact with Somali traditional leaders to secure the release of my father from captivity,’’ Javan pleads.

At his age, he should have been planning Christmas decorations together with his siblings, as they have always done. But this year is different; Javan’s father is among the 43 sailors kidnapped by Somali pirates last October.

Javan, who is due to join Standard Eight next year, made the appeal together with his mother, Elizabeth Molly, at their Mishomoroni home in Mombasa.

- Master Javan Yavesa, 14,

James Yavesa, a second engineer onboard the Kenya-flagged fishing vessel, FV Golden Wave, was due home on October 9, when their vessel come under pirates’ attack off the Kenyan Coast, near Lamu.

The vessel has a crew of 43, including 39 Kenyans, and the pirates are demanding a Sh20 million ransom before they can release the ship and the crew.

Together with Javan’s father are his two uncles, Mark Ingosi and Christopher Mwamburi, also crew members.

"When dad is home for Christmas, he buys us clothes and shoes and we feast on good food,’’ the youngster says.

Molly, a housewife, looks up and says: "I am not about to give up. I believe God has a reason for this. Three of my people are in the hands of Somali pirates and it is sad that they have to spend Christmas in captivity,"

She says since her husband’s capture, they have had to rely on wellwishers for their daily upkeep.

FISHING EXPEDITIONS

"It has been tough life as we have had undergo moments of utter anguish, pain and mental torture, thinking about our beloved. My mother and my in-laws have stood by us and been very supportive,’’ she adds.

Of her husband in captivity, Molly says: "He used to call home frequently when on fishing expeditions, but has not done so since his capture."

Andrew Mwangura, the co-ordinator of the Seafarers Assistance Programme (SAP) says as many people enjoy the Christmas holidays, it is prudent to remember the over 600 seafarers held captive by Somali pirates.

"Out of fear for their safety, and even of their lives, and deprived of contact with their families, these seafarers have suffered the trauma of having their ships attacked with automatic weapons, prior to being kidnapped for ransom,’’ Mwangura told The Standard.

- Master Javan Yavesa, with his mother and siblings. The family is agonising of a Christmas without the regular presence of their father and breadwinner, James Yavesa, in pirates’ custody since October 9. [PHOTOS: PHILIP MWAKIO/STANDARD]

Mwangura added that many have been held captive for several months, often in the most appalling of conditions, by armed and violent criminals who tend to be unpredictable.

Mwangura adds that for merchant seafarers, too often it’s out of sight, out of mind.

PERILOUS SEAS

"It is vital that the international community and Kenya, focus on the plight of those held in Somalia, as well as the tens of thousands of crew who continue to traverse perilous seas to supply goods and services that keep the world functioning," says Mwangura.

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