Arugam Bay was a seaside paradise, tucked away off the southeast coast of Sri Lanka. The only way there was a bridge from the nearby town of Pottuvil, a remote village of white sandy beaches, swaying palms, world-class surfing and colorful fishing boats. Waves of water reduced most local businesses to rubble. Mercy Corps is helping people rebuild their lives by rebuilding their livelihoods. These women who lost everything in the disaster are learning to earn a living by sewing trendy surfer shorts.
When the tsunami hit, there were only five hotels left standing. One year later, there are 42 hotels and 53 restaurants. Thanks to Mercy Corps, a 70-year-old widow can run her tea shop on the beach, serving breakfast to fishermen. And a baker whose shop was flattened is back baking 600 loaves of bread a day. Mercy Corps is also helping impoverished fishermen stay afloat by providing materials to repair nets and boats.