Food bags fill void left by pandemic

distributing food bags
Members of the Rotary Club of Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras, check names off a list as they distribute food bags on the island of St. Helene.

By Roger Bjoroy-Karlsen, Rotary Club of Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

I am on a small boat fully loaded with food bags headed for the people of St. Helene, a small island about two miles long and one mile wide, separated by a canal from the island of Roatan. Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands located off the northern coast of Honduras.

As the waves are striking our boat, my thoughts wander to the approximate 1,000 people in 218 households who are in need of the food we’re delivering. Many of whom have no income because they lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. St. Helene has no roads and no infrastructure. Its people are descendants of African slaves brought by the British to Jamaica and the Cayman Islands who then migrated to Roatan after gaining their freedom in the 1830’s.

Last year they got electricity for the first time. And 14 months ago, as the first part of a Rotary global grant, members completed a fresh water project. Phase two of the grant has been approved.

We landed on a Friday in September 2020 at a dock that was built by grant money and the effort of Rotary members. Our trip could not have happened without funds from the Rotary Club of Oakville Trafalgar (Ontario, Canada) and the Rotary Club of Evergreen (Colorado, USA).

  • 600 masks
  • 250 face shields
  • bags with food for roughly 30 days

In addition to the food, we provided 600 N95 masks and 250 face shields to residents of St. Helene thanks to a donation from Michael McCarry of Mount Sinai Hospitals in New York City, New York. A special thanks to Sterling Lucas and his boat captains who brought us to the island.

The islanders received their bags of provisions as they were checked off of a list. They then loaded into their boats and flipped up their umbrellas and went back to their homes either by sea or along crooked paths around the island. The bags will provide each family with enough food to live on for about a month.

It was great to see their renewed hope for the future as the supplies gave them the ability to look beyond this pandemic. This is what Rotary is about, Service Above Self and bringing new hope to parts of the world.

Learn more about how Rotary is responding to the pandemic and collaborating to advance vaccination drives.

7 thoughts on “Food bags fill void left by pandemic

    • Serve to change lives. What an wonderful effort by the Rotary Club of Roatan. Makes me proud to have been part of raising the quality of live in Ste. Helene and being involved in some aspect commencing with the installation of the playground while I was Governor of District 5370 in 2013-14. Thank you.


  1. Commendable. Such people should be target of our Rotary Service.


  2. Congratulations to the Rotary Club of Roatan. Having visited Ste, Helene twice due to our clubs involvement in the Global Grants that funded playground, school and teacher training, water project, etc we are grateful to your club for the amazing Service Above Self you provide to this island, Thank you.
    Betty Screpnek, Rotary Club of Edmonton Glenora, Edmonton, Canada


  3. A perfect example of service above self! Congratulations to the Rotary Club of Roatan and those who assisted them in this community!


  4. Pingback: Food bags fill void left by pandemic | Rotary Club - AIRC

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