Livelihood, Tradition, and Culture at RiskThe SMHA Rural Recovery efforts, formed in response to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, and Ike, must unfortunately be reimplemented and replenished today to help Louisiana's fishers survive the unprecedented doom they are facing in the wake of the current oil spill.
SMHA's Helen Vinton, far left, visits with endangered family fishers in Grand Bayou, LA
The traditional, multi-cultural and multi-generational Louisiana fisher's life and livelihood are now on hold and at stake. Income has ceased and the prospect for future earnings are bleak as the fisher considers the impact the petroleum-based pollution will have on the breeding grounds of future seasons' crops. Louisiana fishers are being offered contracts by large corporations to assist in oil cleanup efforts, and in their desperation, they are accepting offers containing language and conditions that they are not accustomed to dealing with. Some are unwittingly putting their health and their watercraft vessels in jeopardy.
Community leaders like Ruby Ancar in Grand Bayou are deeply concerned about the future of the traditional livelihoods of family fishers
SMHA needs your dollars to build the capacity of the Rural Recovery Task Force and Fund. Our strategy is two-fold:
· Educate Louisiana's fishers on the importance of being wary of seemingly humanitarian and generous offers by corporate conglomerates and provide technical assistance in this matter.
· Provide immediate financial relief to fishers in the form of recoverable grants averaging $10,000 to help the family fishers and small business owners survive until compensation is received from other sources. Once compensation is received (and only if it is received), 90 percent of the grant amounts will be repaid to SMHA to convert into loans at a 3 percent interest rate to benefit fishers and fisher-related businesses survive the long-term effects of this crisis. Southern Mutual Help Association's past accomplishments demonstrate all the capabilities necessary and ready for dispatch to sustain the Louisiana fisher's present and future prospects.
Click on the links to learn more about SMHA's experience in the following:
· Disaster Response
· Rural Community Development Experience
· Policy Change Experience
· Affordable Financial Loans
· Environmental Concerns
· Capacity Building
· Fund Management
· Small Business Assistance
· Previous Work with Louisiana Fishers