Rotary Clubs Use Tsunami Aid Monies to Rebuild Livelihoods in Sri Lanka

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Tamil and Sinhalese fisher families in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, receive canoes and nets in a humanitarian mission supported by Rotary clubs

More than 54 Tamil and Sinhalese fisher families in the eastern coastal district of Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, received canoes and nets in a humanitarian mission supported by the Rotary Clubs of Ottawa, West Ottawa, Nepean-Kanata, Ottawa South, South Nepean, Hawkesbury and Colombo Metropolitan (Sri Lanka).

Funds were raised by the Rotary clubs for the purchase of 27 canoes, known as “Rotaboats”, and nets for fisher folk in Trincomalee, one of Sri Lanka's poorest districts. The Rotaboats, eleven feet long and made from fiberglass, are ideally suited for lagoon and harbour fishing—the primary method of fishing in the area.

“There are NGOs supplying boats, but the demand for them is very high and they're in short supply. If we do not help supply these canoes and nets, the fishermen in the area will have to wait a long time, maybe one to two years, to receive them,” said Michael Perera of the Rotary Club of Colombo Metropolitan.

Before the tsunami struck, fishing was the basis of the local economy and a chief source of food for the Trincomalee district. Rotarian George Grande, Canada’s former High Commissioner to Sri Lanka said, “This project gets directly to the fisher families with the help of Rotarians in Sri Lanka.”

Local craftsmen in Trincomalee built the Rotaboats. The Rotary Club of Colombo Metropolitan monitored the distribution of the canoes to ensure they were delivered to those families in greatest need.

About Rotary: Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide to provide humanitarian service and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. It is comprised of 1.2 million members working in over 32,000 clubs in 170 countries. Rotary members initiate community projects that address many of today’s most critical issues such as violence, AIDS, hunger, the environment and health care. This year, Rotary is celebrating its 100th anniversary; a key project is the eradication of polio.

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Tahirah Shadforth
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