600 free boats give hope to ‘Yolanda’-hit fishermen

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QUEZON City, May 11, 2014 – No less than 600 boats painted yellow have been given to poor fishermen from Leyte, Samar and Cebu who are still in the process of recovering after super typhoon ‘Yolanda’ hit Central Visayas last November 8.

“We are replacing the boats fisherfolks lost to typhoon ‘Yolanda’,” Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation Inc. vice-president and co-founder Jay Jaboneta said.“The beneficiaries in Visayas started receiving boats in February.”

Kids pose with the yellow boats awarded by the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation Inc. to fishermen who lost their main source of livelihood to super typhoon 'Yolanda' last year. (Photo: Jay Jaboneta)

The yellow boats are of two types, he added. Some are engine-driven, others are propelled by paddle. If fishermen would buy the engine-driven, each would cost about P25, 000, and P8, 000 for the manually driven ones.

According to Jaboneta, most of the recipients of free boats are Catholics, with some coming from other denominations, since they are from the Visayas.

“We really don’t ask about religion, but I assume majority are Catholics,” he said. “The boats were blessed [by a priest] during the turnover ceremony.”

Early this year, American best-selling author Mitchell David “Mitch” Albom donated six boats to the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation through National Book Store (NBS) for fishermen who lost their bancas to typhoon Yolanda.

The yellow boats donated by Albom bear the titles of his books, which include Have A Little Faith, Tuesdays with Morrie, The Time Keeper, The First Phone Call from Heaven, and For One More Day.

The distribution of free boats to poor fishermen along devastated coastal communities continues, Jaboneta added.

The foundation is constructing more boats in Northern Cebu, Leyte, and Samar.

Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation’s Adopt-A-Fisherman project was launched in Davao Oriental after fishermen in the area lost their boats to typhoon ‘Pablo’ on December 3, 2012.

The devastation of typhoon ‘Yolanda’ prompted the organizers to extend the program to fishermen in the Visayas, Jaboneta said.

Many groups support the Adopt-A-Fisherman project, he said. Most of them are associated with companies or overseas groups. Donations also come from fundraising campaigns conducted by priests.

The foundation was established 3 years ago, “when we found out there were children who had to swim to school” without boats, Jaboneta said.

“When we were giving them our first boat, we decided to color it yellow” just like the yellow school bus. In 2013, the foundation donated 300 boats to help school children go to school.

It has adopted communities in different parts of the country, where school kids’ routes to school include bodies of water with a lack of boats to transport them. (Oliver Samson)

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