Kauai Rotary makes big impact on Philippines Typhoon Devastation

When Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines on Nov. 8, thousands were killed, countless houses were torn apart, infrastructure demolished and livelihoods obliterated. Kauai residents, businesses and service clubs immediately sought to provide assistance and relief. Among them were the Rotary clubs of Kapaa and Poipu Beach. First reports are returning of the successes of those relief efforts and we’d like to share them here.

The Rotarians from these Kauai clubs saw the damage from afar and decided that they would help, but the scope of the devastation was so great and widespread that they knew their efforts would have to be focused to provide maximum benefit. Poipu Beach Rotary contacted officials at its sister club, the Rotary Club of Cebu Port Center in Cebu City in the central Philippines, to learn whether their fellow Rotarians or family members were safe and what they might need.

To the relief of the Kauai Rotarians, the report returned that none of their friends had been injured, but the north part of the island had been hit with significant damage and loss of life. Having worked with the Cebu Rotarians on numerous medical missions and community development projects over the last 10 years, the Kauai Rotarians trusted in their counterparts. With the help of First Hawaiian Bank, the Kapaa and Poipu Beach clubs transferred $6,000 to the treasurer of the Cebu Port Center Club with a simple directive saying that since they were the people on the ground, they should use their best judgment to provide the most effective relief for their community.

“When you’re finished, let us know how it went,” was the message from the local clubs.

They recently heard back.

In early March, the Rotary Club of Cebu Port Center reported it decided to focus on the plight of the island’s fishermen, whose houses, boats and livelihoods were destroyed by the storm. They wanted to put fishermen back to work and restore the fishing industry on the north half of Cebu Island. Beginning with the donation from the Kauai Rotarians and adding their own donations, they launched a project to build 40 boats. Beneficiary fishermen were selected with the condition that they contribute their labor services toward the construction of the boat that they would own. The cost of a three-seater boat with a seven-horsepower marine engine and equipped with fishing nets amounts to $680.

It was a success. Forty boats were completed by the end of February and sent out to sea.

Sometimes, when communities are devastated far away, it’s difficult to know what to do, how to help, where best to pitch in and make a difference. The Rotary clubs didn’t hesitate, even taking a chance by transferring thousands without assurances of how the money would be used. Their desire to help, and their trust, paid off.

What more can we add than well done. We thank the Rotarians and encourage others to join them in their international partnerships and relief efforts.

Info: Dr. Craig Nishimoto, 332-7315

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