August 10, 2005
Former U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and William Clinton named the Minneapolis-based American Refugee Committee’s (ARC) Fishing Boat Project as the first tsunami relief project to receive funding with private money raised through the Bush-Clinton Fund.
The Presidents’ $1 million contribution will replace fishing boats in Thailand and provide equipment and support to fishermen, many of whom lost nearly everything in the tsunami. The former Presidents wanted to fund the project because of its economic impact and ability to spur job creation.
The two former Presidents visited ARC’s Fishing Boat Project in Nam Khem, Thailand, on February 19 of this year as part of their tour of tsunami-affected areas. The Fishing Boat Project is the only tsunami relief project they visited while in Thailand.
“President Clinton and I are delighted to be able to give this grant to the American Refugee Committee,” added former President Bush. “When we visited the tsunami-stricken countries, [we] were inspired by the victims who are determined to rebuild their lives; we were inspired by…groups such as ARC who are determined to help these people do just that.”
“I am so pleased that [we] are able to present [ARC] with this grant,” added former President Clinton. “With this one million -dollar donation, those who once made their lives as fishermen will be able to go back into business and support their families…Through the hard work and determination of ARC, and other groups like it, the American people can be sure their generous donations will be put to good use rebuilding this industry in Thailand,” added Clinton.
The Presidents’ funding will complement private tsunami relief contributions ARC already has received from nearly 5,000 individuals and more than 300 schools, churches, businesses and civic groups. “The groundswell of support from people around Minnesota and indeed around the country has been phenomenal,” said Hugh Parmer, president of ARC.
“We are honored the Presidents selected ARC as the first recipient of the private funding they raised,” added Parmer. “In addition, the Presidents’ funding is one of the largest private contributions in ARC’s history.”
In addition to its Fishing Boat Project, through which ARC is working with Thai fishermen to replace boats lost in the tsunami, ARC also provided immediate medical assistance in Indonesia and is conducting ongoing tsunami relief operations in the Trincomalee District of Sri Lanka.
“The Fishing Boat Project has provided fishermen and their families with hope that they will be able to fish again,” said Northfield, Minnesota, native Gary Dahl, ARC’s Thailand country director. “We have already built more than 200 boats and are in the process of distributing them to fishermen who can now begin to restore their livelihoods after this unimaginable disaster. This program is making a real difference in the lives of these people.”
Press Contact: Therese Gales at (800) 875-7060.