The cornerstone was laid on December 19 for a community Rotacentre located in Paiyagala, 45 kilometers south of Colombo, Sri Lanka, for the use of fishermen victims of the 2004 tsunami and their families. On the second anniversary of the Southeast Asian disaster that deprived so many Sri Lankan fishermen of their homes and livelihood, several Rotary Clubs in Ottawa are now financing the construction of the “Ottawa Rotacentre” there.
The Ottawa Rotary Clubs are co-operating with the Rotary Club of Colombo Metropolitan which is overseeing the construction and operation of this first Rotacentre in Sri Lanka. It will complement the gift of some 27 Rotaboats given to 54 Tamil and Sinhalese fisher families in the summer of 2005 by these same Ottawa-area Rotary Clubs. Before the tsunami struck on Boxing Day 2004, fishing was the basis of the local economy and a chief source of food for Sri Lankans. West Ottawa Rotarian George Grande, Canada’s former High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, commented, “This Rotacentre project carries on the vital work already done by Ottawa Rotary in Sri Lanka. It fills a continuing need in the efforts of fishermen to return to normal life. We must never forget them and their disaster.”
The new Rotacentre will be used for repairing nets and engines and also for recreation and meetings of the fishermen’s families. It is planned to build an adjoining playground later. The cornerstone was laid by George and Charmaine Neufeld of Ottawa, charter members of the Ottawa Rotary Tsunami Support Group, and co-ordinated by Kathryn Williams of the Rotary Club of Ottawa.
The Rotary Clubs co-operating in this venture are the Rotary Club of Ottawa, Rotary Club of West Ottawa, Rotary Club of Ottawa South, Rotary Club of South Nepean, Rotary Club of Nepean-Kanata, Rotary Club of Ottawa Bytown, Rotary Club of Kanata Sunrise, and the Rotaract Club of Ottawa (university students’ club).
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.