Boats for Kirinda

Trip Start Oct 20, 2004
Trip End Apr 26, 2005

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Saturday, February 5, 2005


Since our return from the southeast, we've been very busy in Colombo. We've identified a need for boats as being the main priority in the small fishing village of Kirinda. Until there are boats, the villagers are virtually helpless. The people of Kirinda need to reclaim their lives, to get back to the ocean, and to do what they've done for generations -- fish.

The local method of fishing involves dropping huge, weighted nets into the ocean. The fishermen dive to the ocean's floor, tying the sunken nets and trapping their catch. Consequently, they must be excellent swimmers, with the ability to hold the breath for several minutes at a time. (In fact, we learned that the world underwater breath-holding champion is a Sri Lankan fisherman.) During the tsunami, the fishermen of Kirinda saved many lives by repeatedly diving into the dangerous waters, pulling women and children to safety, and tying them to treetops using saris and excess clothing. While reports have emerged from Sri Lanka that many fishermen have been traumatized by the tsunami, the fishermen of Kirinda have expressed their desire to return to the sea.

Over the past several days we have helped our new friend Ashfaque to establish a non-profit organization, "Cast-A-Net Lanka", through which we will raise funds to buy boats, motors, and nets for Kirinda. With each 18-ft fiberglass boat, between eight and twelve fishermen can return to the sea, therefore helping as many families. In addition, the fishing profits will generate income to the village, thus boosting the local economy.

Each boat/motor costs about $3000 USD and each net about $1500 USD. The boats will be built by a Colombo-based fiberglass company, and the nets will be sourced from India. Production will begin Monday the 7th of February, and the first boat should take about ten days to complete. This organization hopes to supply a few boats to Kirinda. Considering a UN report estimating that between 15,500 and 19,637 fishing vessels were damaged or destroyed, over 10,000 nets were lost, and nearly 3,000 outboard engines are missing, this is a very small effort in the grand scheme of things. However seemingly insignificant, it will nonetheless help the people of Kirinda.
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