Fishing boats for tsunami victims
FORGOTTEN fishermen whose land was torn apart by the Asian tsunami could all be back at sea within months – thanks to the people of Suffolk.Thousands of pounds raised by the Evening Star's Life After Tragedy appeal has already been used to buy some fishing boats, and now it is hoped to purchase a whole fleet so all the families can work again and rebuild their lives.
FORGOTTEN fishermen whose land was torn apart by the Asian tsunami could all be back at sea within months - thanks to the people of Suffolk.
Thousands of pounds raised by the Evening Star's Life After Tragedy appeal has already been used to buy some fishing boats, and now it is hoped to purchase a whole fleet so all the families can work again and rebuild their lives.
A wide variety of events have been held to support the appeal, which was started after former Star photographer Nicky Lewin discovered the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami while in Sri Lanka on an assignment.
While work was being done to help many people on the island, the 650 refugees in Negombo appeared to have been forgotten - missed by the authorities.
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Until the Star appeal was launched, it was feared the villagers would be dispersed and their community and way of life lost forever.
Now they have hope again, and the fleet of fishing boats will enable them to work, provide for themselves, give them back their pride and dignity, and help them to start putting their shattered world back together again.
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Mr Lewin, who is returning soon to Negombo, paid tribute to the people who had supported the appeal.
"It's been an incredible effort and the people of Suffolk can feel enormously proud of themselves," he said.
"Every penny raised will make a real difference in the lives of these people.
"It makes you realise that throughout the world we really are all brothers and sisters and when they hurt, we hurt.
"They know all about the Evening Star and the people of Ipswich and Suffolk - they know where the help is coming from."
Mr Lewin is in regular contact with the priest from the village, who has been talking to the people about their needs and how the appeal money could be used.
"New fishing boats is what is really needed - their boats were swept away by the tsunami, as well as their homes and all their possessions," he said.
"But if we were able to buy a fleet of fishing boats and get them all back to work it would give them hope, pride and dignity, and provide a living for them - whole families work on the fishing with the men out in the boats and the women selling the catch.
"It is such an important part of their lives. It will not end their problems but it will get them back to work so they can begin again."
Mr Lewin said it was absolutely fantastic to be able to help the refugees and was not something he had imagined himself doing a few months ago. By working together, it showed how people really could help others and make a difference.