Monday, July 2, 2007

Netting A Profit

By Deron Denton

The full moon sinks over the horizon as six men leave shore. Like an unseen fog, the smell of saltwater and fish hangs in the humid air. The mighty Ganges River bleeds into the Indian Ocean just south of here. All signs indicate it will be a good day for fishing: the sky and the waters are calm and clear.

Life is not easy on this small Indian island of Maipith, in the Bay of Bengal. The poverty here is rampant and ruthless. Opportunities to overcome it are scarce. Many heads of households struggle as daily laborers…considering it a good day when they earn enough to feed their children a second meal.

For years, the ineffectual grind of bare subsistence was a daily fact for six fathers and their families. And although the sponsorship program made life better for their children, it appeared dire poverty would be a reality for the rest of their lives.

Tossing the Net

Today – thanks to the generosity of a sponsor’s donation – these men are leaving shore as self-employed fishermen in a boat they jointly own. Their catches and the ensuing profits are also equally distributed. As a result of the families’ improved standards of living, their children also stand a better chance of breaking through the barriers of poverty.

Jaime “Jay” Rubin, a long-time Children International sponsor, funded this unique community project. The fishing boat gift is just one example of how proactive his philanthropic spirit is: Jay has funded numerous community projects in the past.

Ratan Bairagi, one of Jay’s six sponsored children, is the son of a fisherman. Last year, Jay inquired with Eric Newman, from Children International’s Sponsor Services department, if there were any community projects that needed funding in Ratan’s neighborhood.

The six fathers had all been fishermen in the past, but none owned a boat. Ratan’s father, Bholanath, explained, “Sometimes I would go out on the river in other people’s boats to help with the fishing. But my earnings would be very low.” So, he continues, when the staff asked “whether I had any special need which I could also share with others, I voted for a boat and net.”

The other parents enthusiastically agreed this would be the most productive and economical use of community funding. When the proposal was submitted for the sponsor’s approval, Jay readily endorsed and financed the project.

Since receiving the boat and fishing net in December 2004, six families – a total of 29 persons – have seen their household incomes nearly double. It was a compassionate donation of about $1,500…not a terribly large sum to many, but a life-altering gift to those who received it.

Reeling It In

With the sun setting over the bay, the men are exhausted and sore…but content. It has been a good day for fishing. Though they’ve had larger catches, they have also had smaller ones. Such is life as a fisherman. And it is a life these men and their families are grateful to be living.

“Feeding a big family is always very hard,” said Bholanath, “but now I feel lighter and happier.”

Returning to shore in their motorized boat, a small yellow sign catches the light of the sun. The sign serves as a reminder of how this dream became real: Painted in the color of ocean blue, Jaime Rubin’s name glows brightly.

1 comment:

evergreen3 said...

Thanks to Jay Rubin for financial support of this boat and nets. One person can make a difference, whether giving $5 or $1,500.