By Roger Bjoroy-Karlsen, Rotary Club of Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras
Iam on a small boat fully loaded with food bags headed for the people of St. Helene, a small island about two miles long and one mile wide, separated by a canal from the island of Roatan. Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands located off the northern coast of Honduras.
As the waves are striking our boat, my thoughts wander to the approximate 1,000 people in 218 households who are in need of the food we’re delivering. Many of whom have no income because they lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. St. Helene has no roads and no infrastructure. Its people are descendants of African slaves brought by the British to Jamaica and the Cayman Islands who then migrated to Roatan after gaining their freedom in the 1830’s.
Last year they got electricity for the first time. And 14 months ago, as the first part of a Rotary global grant, members completed a fresh water project. Phase two of the grant has been approved.
We landed on a Friday in September 2020 at a dock that was built by grant money and the effort of Rotary members. Our trip could not have happened without funds from the Rotary Club of Oakville Trafalgar (Ontario, Canada) and the Rotary Club of Evergreen (Colorado, USA).
- 600 masks
- 250 face shields
- bags with food for roughly 30 days
In addition to the food, we provided 600 N95 masks and 250 face shields to residents of St. Helene thanks to a donation from Michael McCarry of Mount Sinai Hospitals in New York City, New York. A special thanks to Sterling Lucas and his boat captains who brought us to the island.
The islanders received their bags of provisions as they were checked off of a list. They then loaded into their boats and flipped up their umbrellas and went back to their homes either by sea or along crooked paths around the island. The bags will provide each family with enough food to live on for about a month.
It was great to see their renewed hope for the future as the supplies gave them the ability to look beyond this pandemic. This is what Rotary is about, Service Above Self and bringing new hope to parts of the world.
Learn more about how Rotary is responding to the pandemic and collaborating to advance vaccination drives.