I really liked this story in the December 26, 2005 Bangkok Post, it jibes with Graeme Bristol's comment: "Economic recovery goes a long, long way towards psychological recovery."
In the story, a fisherman recounts how he lost his sister and nephew to the tsunami. Another depressed nephew took his own life after. "Woodwork helps me from thinking about the tsunami tragedy."
It'd take too long now to spell out but I've been finding that throwing cash at people hasn't been particularly effective. As the head of Ban Nam Khem village says that without a fair distribution system "generosity can be a two-edged sword if one villager gets money but the others don't." In other words, resentment builds and divides the community. I've verified this myself in other villages.
I think too that the Asian "face-saving" pride plays a role. And universally people like to feel self-sufficient. So I every afternoon I ate lunch at Pa's restaurant, the Rim Tang on Koh Jum, or I stopped to buy longan and oranges at Lan's shop (first on the left on your way to Koh Jum village). Or on Phi Phi I might buy a banana shake from a street vendor, a T-shirt from another, a flashlight from a third, a taxiboat ride from the boy.
Suthee Chumphol, a fisherman from Ban Nam Khem [approximately 1800 of their 5000-strong fishing community perished], admits he used to be clumsy with wood and carpenter's tools. But today he owns a fishing boat that he made on his own.
It is the first fishing boat that the 26-year-old made after attending a nine-month training course, provided for those affected by the Dec 26 tsunami by the Save Andaman Group, a coalition of non-governmental organisations. It received support from private companies...
Unlike other aid agencies, which tend to provide free donations, Save Andaman wanted its recepients to acquire new skills. The fishermen shouldered half of the boat's cost, about 75,000 baht, while the other half was paid by other companies joining the project including Dow Chemical, Toyota, Siam Cement Group, and the Stock Exchange of Thailand.
The fisherman's share of the cost, which will be made gradually once they can earn an income, will go to a community fund which will be used for other development activities.
The fisherman can take out loans from the fund to buy the necessary fishing equipment. In order to manage the fund properly and develop it into a community bank, the fishermen learned basic accountancy and audit work.
The group plans to make 50 boats this year. All are small-sized boats, measuring 10 metres in length.
The cooperative did not stop at boat building. The novice carpenters started to produce beams and other woodwork to supply a new housing project.
Maitree Chongkraichak, director of Ban Nam Khem Community Centre, said the cooperative is launching a new business - producing wood materials for house construction...
Mr Maitree said the community would not stop at the planned 50 boats. "Maybe what we are looking for is not only building new boats. I would say we are trying to build new lives," he said. - from "'Washed up' fishermen turn carpenter and build their own boats", Bangkok Post, December 26, 2005 (old URL: http://www.bangkokpost.com/News/26Dec2005_news61.php)
p.s. The December 26th issue of Bangkok Post is excellent. Unfortunately, they archive their articles in an impossible to find manner. If anyone can help me, please let me know.
p.p.s. I'd already heard complimentary things about Save Andaman before this story.