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Rotary club gets $50k grant to aid Guatemalans

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The Rotary Club of Sequim President Sara Maloney announced Sept. 3 that the club has just been awarded a $50,000 Global Grant from Rotary International to improve health and sanitation needs in three Mayan villages on the northern edge of Lake Izabal, Guatemala.  

The Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island and the host Rotary Club of Guatemala Vista Hermosa join the Sequim club humanitarian venture, Noon Rotary’s International Service Director Lang Hadley explained.

Rotarians will be working with a local non-governmental organization in Guatemala to help meet some of the needs identified by the village COCODE (governing leaders).

“This project addresses accessing a reliable clean water supply, constructing composting latrines, building gardens to improve nutrition and, most of all,  the education necessary to sustain and perpetuate these healthier practices as well as maintain the newly installed infrastructure,” Hadley said.

Rotary provides funds worldwide to create hope, and assist village leaders to make plans for improvement projects that will positively impact the lives of the people.

Guatemala has a total population of about 12 million people, of which an estimated 48 percent are indigenous Mayans.  Of these, 93 percent are living below the poverty line (defined as an income that is not sufficient to purchase a basic basket of goods and basic services). In addition, Guatemala has the fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world and the highest in the Western Hemisphere.  About 70 percent of children younger than 5 years old are malnourished.

Local Rotarian, Lang Hadley and his wife Mary, an Honorary Rotarian, have gone to Central America several times to attend the annual “Uniendo America” Project Fair.  At the 2010 Fair, held in January, they met Julio Grazioso, a Rotarian from Guatemala City whose Club proposed the comprehensive project to improve the living conditions in some very remote villages.  

Hadley and members of the Bainbridge Club investigated the need and presented the grant request to Rotary International for approval.  Joint funding for the project will come from the Sequim and Bainbridge Island clubs and Rotary International.

The Central American Project Fairs have been held annually to build strong friendships between Central American Rotarians and their North American counterparts and to identify projects in their communities on which they can work together to further Rotary’s goal of world understanding and peace. At the last project fair there were over 300 projects to choose from.   

Participants not only gain valuable knowledge about Rotary and Central America in general, but also meet on a social level with some of the friendly and dynamic Central Americans who are making their countries and the world a better place in which to live.   

The first Central American Project Fair in took place in January 1994.  Approximately 300-400 members U.S. and Canadian Rotarians are expected to attend The next Project Fair, which will be held in David, Panama on Jan. 27–29, 2011.  Those interested may visit the website at http://rotariodavid.org/uniendoamerica/ferias_en.htm   

Information on the Rotary Club of Sequim is available at www.sequimnoonrotary.org.

 

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