Forty-eight-year-old Mohamed Saeed’s life is all about fishing and taking care of his family. Like so many others, Boxing Day 2004 is a day the father of seven from the Maldives will never forget.
He had just prepared some salty fish and had laid them out to dry under the strong mid-morning sun when he heard a loud noise. Walking out of his house, he saw big boats coming towards him on the waves. Before long he was chest-high in water.
He remembered: “I caught on to a tree nearby and held on to it tight. I was hoping the water would subside so that I could go and look for my family. As soon as I thought it was safe to let go, something big came and hit me in the chest and once again I went under. Then a hand gripped me and lifted me up on to a higher ground.”
Mohamed caught sight of his beloved 25-year-old daughter Fathimath, who was in tears and lying on a wall. She shouted: “Dad, I am dying, please help.”
Mohamed was lucky; he was able to help all his children. However, he had lost all his fishing equipment.
Soon after the British Red Cross arrived on Buruni island, Mohamed went to a community meeting where he heard about the Red Cross’ programme helping people rebuild their livelihoods by giving cash grants. He applied and was happy to receive 25,000 Maldives Rufiyaa (nearly £1,000) for his group.
He explained: “I had received 1,500 MRF (£60) from the government but this was hardly enough to get the business going. Only with the British Red Cross grant did I manage to fully start on the activities.”
There were five members in his group and they have been able to make a good living again. In fact, Mohamed makes even more profit now than he did before the tsunami. The group’s monthly average income is around 10,000 MRF (£400).
He said: “I am very much appreciative and thankful. The British Red Cross has helped strengthen our livelihoods and we are getting two beautiful houses for my large family of 18.”
The British Red Cross livelihoods and disaster management projects in the Maldives have helped more than 1,100 people strengthen their livelihoods.
More stories about our tsunami livelihoods grants
More about our tsunami recovery programme