Five Years After Killer Tsunami, Rotary Continues to Help Affected
Communities Rebuild and Recover


<p>EVANSTON, Ill., <chron>Dec. 17</chron> /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For Kerstin Jeska-Zimmerman, a Rotary club member from Gera, <location>Germany</location>, a relaxing vacation in <location>Sri Lanka</location> five years ago turned into a life-changing event when she suddenly found herself in the middle of a disaster zone created by the devastating tsunami of <chron>Dec. 26, 2004</chron>.</p>
<p>Triggered by an earthquake deep beneath the Indian Ocean, the so-called Boxing Day Tsunami killed almost 230,000 people in eleven countries, leaving millions homeless and causing billions of dollars in damage.</p>
<p>Jeska-Zimmerman immediately began assessing needs, returned home, and mobilized German Rotary clubs, which quickly raised nearly US$2.4 million in cash and in-kind donations, including medical equipment, medicine and cargo transport. Within days, nine tons of emergency medical supplies left <location>Germany</location>, much of it destined for a hospital in Galle, <location>Sri Lanka</location>, where she knew firsthand the need was great.</p>
<p>Rotary members around the world -- including those in the disaster area -- were responding in a like manner. The international disaster relief charity ShelterBox, supported by Rotary clubs worldwide, quickly raised <money>$10.5 million</money> to shi 13,000 ShelterBoxes filled with tents and other emergency supplies to <location>Sri Lanka</location>, <location>India</location>, <location>Indonesia</location> and the <location>Maldives</location>, enough to house 130,000 people.</p>
<p>As the major disaster relief organizations stepped in, Rotary -- a global humanitarian service organization -- focused on projects addressing rebuilding and recovery. The 62 Rotary clubs in <location>Sri Lanka</location>, where 187 coastal schools were destroyed, raised <money>$12 million</money> to build 25 schools.</p>
<p>Scores of recovery projects in <location>Indonesia</location>, <location>India</location>, <location>Sri Lanka</location>, and <location>Thailand</location> were funded by Rotary's Solidarity in South Asia Fund, to which Rotary clubs contributed nearly <money>$6 million</money>. Among them are a health center and youth center in Aceh Province, <location>Indonesia</location>.</p>
<p>An additional <money>$484,000</money> came in the form of Rotary matching grants from Rotary clubs in other countries. The range of projects includes housing developments, orphanages, water and sanitation systems, solar oven technology, community-based credit unions, and replacement of destroyed fishing trawlers.</p>
<p>As for Jeska-Zimmerman, she has returned to <location>Sri Lanka</location> every December since the disaster to check on the hospital that the German Rotary clubs have essentially "adopted" -- and where 40 to 70 babies are born each day. This year, she travels in January to coordinate a <money>$300,000</money> project that will equip two new delivery rooms and two operating rooms.</p>
<p>"The response was amazing," she says, reflecting back on her initial plea for aid. "The Rotary network was able to mobilize -- despite a complete breakdown of communication -- an unprecedented donation drive thousands of miles away to aid some of the most vulnerable victims. Truly amazing."</p>
<p>Rotary - an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide in humanitarian service - has more than 1.2 million members in more than 33,000 clubs in over 200 countries and geographic regions. For more information, visit <a href=""></a>.</p>

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For further information: For further information: Elizabeth Minelli of Rotary International, +1-847-866-3237, Web Site:

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