Tandel Ramchandra (left) and Godara Rishav with David Masters as they recover at Wollongong Hospital. Picture: DAVE TEASE
Two Indian sailors who survived a potentially fatal accident at sea have thanked the Illawarra for providing medical treatment, support - and a plentiful supply of naan bread and papadums.Godara Rishav, 21, and Tandel Ramchandra, 25, were rescued by helicopter from their ship off Port Kembla on July 7 after falling into their ship's hold.They are still in Wollongong Hospital recovering from their injuries, which include a combined four badly broken legs, a broken arm and serious spinal bruising. Injured crewmen airlidted from ship off Port KemblaThe sailors were painting the 20m-high hold of the 82,000 tonne coal ship United Treasure when scaffolding collapsed. They plunged several storeys.Homesick and tired, the two reserved men have put out a vote of thanks to those who have supported them during the treatment of their horrific injuries.Their ship left long ago but Port Kembla Mission to Seafarers lay chaplain David Masters has been a regular visitor.The Taj Mahal Indian restaurant in Wollongong has also supplied free meals after the men, who are vegetarian, struggled with the hospital diet."I feel that (Mr Masters) and the people here have been doing something good for us," Mr Rishav told the Illawarra Mercury yesterday."I thank them for that."I am feeling a bit better."Mr Ramchandra also expressed his thanks. He has the extra stress of being husband to a young wife who is heavily pregnant with their first child in Mumbai."I haven't told her about the accident - I can't do it," he said."I don't want her to worry."The men have been in and out of surgery for several weeks and their futures - both their health and careers - are still uncertain.Working at sea had helped them provide solid financial support for their families in a country where severe poverty is the norm. Mr Masters, whose role is to provide support for visiting sailors at Port Kembla, said he has visited the men almost every day."The hospital does what it can but they had been ringing me to see if I could bring some rice or naan bread and these type of things," he said."The Taj Mahal in Keira St gave them to me for nothing when I told them the circumstances."I think it's important for people to know that Wollongong has really welcomed and supported these men who have come from a foreign place," Mr Masters added.The men are expected to be allowed to return to India in several weeks. Their employer has indicated it will support them at this stage, but for how long is not known.Mr Masters, who helps support 5000 sailors a year at Port Kembla through Mission to Seafarers, is collecting funds and Indian reading material to help give the men a start for when they arrive home.To contribute, call 4274 6498.