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The 700 Club

Saving Lives at the Cost of Livelihoods

When a tsunami flooded parts of this seaside village in Kerala, India, local fishermen risked their lives to save more than 5,000 people.

Bejoy, an Indian government official, said, “All of our agencies worked during the flood, but not like these people.  Why?  Because the courage they have.”

A fisherman explained, “It was very dangerous, but all we wanted to do was rescue people who were screaming for their lives.”

The fishermen who were familiar with the narrow streets of their villages rescued people from their flooded homes, moved patients from submerged hospitals, and helped distribute food and other supplies to camps and shelters.  But they paid a heavy price for their bravery.  Many of their old, fragile boats were damaged beyond repair as they maneuvered over jagged debris. The media hailed them as heroes, but no one did anything to help these fishermen who were now struggling to feed their families.  

Another fisherman said, “Our boats are our livelihood.  In order to buy another boat, we would have to get a loan.  But we hardly make any money in the first place, so I don’t know how we would pay back a loan.”

CBN India Director, Priti Choudry went to Kerala, met the fishermen and their families, and heard their stories.

Priti explained, “When they returned, they found that their homes were submerged in water, but their boats were very badly damaged. We felt that if there is one help that we could give, it would be to restore the boats.”

So CBN India gave new boats that will be used by 55 families.  We also gave families food and household supplies and provided many with the money they need to begin rebuilding their lives.

Priti said, “Our teams have been here for more than 2 weeks, in Kerala.  As we prepare to go home, we would have helped almost 8,000 people and touched their lives. The most significant help that we might have given is the boats.”

“This is the greatest moment in our lives,” said a fisherman.  “You not only helped us, but you honored our state as well.  Thank you so much, and God bless you.”

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