After 22 years of traversing the world’s oceans in defence of the environment, the ship will be renamed as Rongdhonu, Bengali for Rainbow. The ship will serve the coastal belt of Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal delivering primary and secondary medical assistance to some of the most vulnerable communities of the world, communities that have little or no access to basic health care facilities. The Rongdhonu will also serve as an emergency medical ship around the region, enabling Friendship to bring medical aid to those areas which are already experiencing the effects of climate change.
Greenpeace, however, will not be long without a Rainbow Warrior, as construction of a new Warrior, the third to bear the name, is nearly complete. (2) The vessel will join the Greenpeace fleet in October as the organization celebrates its 40th anniversary.
The Rainbow Warrior II first sailed for Greenpeace in 1989 and replaced the original Rainbow Warrior, after it was bombed and sunk by French government agents in 1985. In over two decades the ship has challenged the legal system and won, confronted environmental crimes, blocked shipments of illegal timber from the world’s rainforests, opposed nuclear weapons testing and sailed against over fishing, whaling, war, global warming, and other environmental crimes on every ocean. More recently, the Rainbow Warrior travelled to the waters off the coast of Fukushima and was used to carry out radiation sampling.
Friendship worked for over a decade in Bangladesh, specialising in medical care and emergency relief. Currently it has two hospital ships. With cooperation of Friendship Luxembourg and Friendship Holland, Rongdhonu will be the third: its proud history campaigning for the environment will be turned towards health and human dignity.
Speaking at the hand over ceremony, Mike Fincken, Captain of the Rainbow Warrior II, quoted the Cree Indian prophecy from which the ship got its name: “There will come a time when the Earth grows sick and when it does a tribe will gather from all the cultures of the world who believe in deeds and not words. They will work to heal it...they will be known as the "Warriors of the Rainbow’.” Adding, “This ship has carried people from around the world and has stood as an icon of hope over pessimism and as an emblem of action over complacency, it is time to pass that task on."
Runa Khan of Friendship said, “The Rongdhonu’s primary goal would be to take up the baton and “Heal”. After decades of work in bringing global awareness to mankind’s consciousness, the Rainbow Warrior as Bangladesh’s Rongdhonu will bring relief during natural disaster and help ease the physical suffering and pain amongst communities which have no access to dependable healthcare. Friendship deeply believes ‘that no development intervention is possible when one is suffering’ and it is to ease such suffering, that the Warrior will strive to work towards, for its new life as the Rongdhonu.”
Following the inauguration of Rongdhonu, the ship will set sail to Bangladesh from Singapore and is expected to reach the Chittagong port during September 2011.
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(1) Over the last decade, Friendship has worked in an integrated approach bringing health (directly to over 1.2 million beneficiaries), relief and disaster prevention, education, microfinance and preservation of culture in some of the most vulnerable regions of the planet. Friendship has specialised in working with communities at risk in various parts of Bangladesh, including the isolated chars of the Jamuna River, and cyclone affected areas in the Southern parts of the country. http://www.friendship-bd.org/therongdhonu
(2) As the first purpose built environmental campaigning vessel the new Rainbow Warrior will be one of a kind. She will be a model of green ship construction, with extraordinary A-frame sails allowing minimal use of highly efficient diesel engines, to keep her carbon ‘footprint’ low. For more info and a virtual tour of the new Rainbow Warrior http://anewwarrior.greenpeace.org