TRF Global Grants fund water and sanitation projects in Africa and South America proposed by District 5370 clubs

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© Rotary International/Alyce Henson

Global Grants from The Rotary Foundation that were recently awarded to the Rotary Clubs of Wainwright and Spruce Grove mean that students at a school in northern Ghana and residents of a community in rural Ecuador will soon have access to clean drinking water.

The Rotary Club of Wainwright’s project, in partnership with the Rotary Club of Tamale, Ghana, will result in “the installation of a system for harvesting rainwater from the roof of the existing building at La’angum Primary School (in Ghana), during the rainy season and storing it for later use,” says George Bunz, the club’s Foundation chair.

The Rotary Club of Revelstoke, BC is also contributing money to this project.

Meanwhile, Rotarians from Spruce Grove have partnered with the Rotary Club of Bahia de Caraquez to construct a municipal water system in Santa Teresa, Ecuador. The Rotary Club of Reno, Nevada is implementing a similar project in the adjacent community of Las Mercedes.

When completed, the new water systems in Ecuador will serve about 800 residents of the two villages, under the management of an elected water board.

“Prior to the 2016, the community got its water from a hand-drilled well, but this was destroyed by that year’s earthquake,” says Brad Mastaler, president-elect of the Spruce Grove club.

How Global Grants work

Global Grants are made possible by donations to TRF by Rotarians from around the world.

In addition to money from TRF’s World Fund, funding for these projects comes from other sources, including from the participating clubs and from the District  Foundation committee (District Designated Funds).

The amount of money available to our District Foundation committee for District Designated Funds is determined by how much Rotarians from our District contribute to TRF. Half of what was donated by Rotarians in our District three years earlier is returned to the committee, to be used for District grants to clubs and to support Global Grant applications.

Global Grants fund projects in the six areas of focus for TRF: disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, economic and community development, and peace and conflict prevention/resolution.

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For more information on how Global Grants work, check out TRF’s Guide to Global Grants. In addition, you can consult the District 5370 Foundation grants sub-committee chair, Wayne McCutcheon (RC of St. Albert), at wsm@shaw.ca or District Foundation chair Wayne Kauffman (RC of Edmonton Riverview), at wkauffman@shaw.ca.

Support future TRF Global and District Grants by donating to TRF Canada. Donate before the end of December to receive a receipt you can use when filing your 2018 tax return.

Wainwright project will bring clean drinking water, improved toilets and biogas for school in Ghana

The school being supported by the Wainwright Rotary Club is located in Bumboazio, in northern Ghana, a region that is much less developed than in the south. Families there earn their living by farming small plots of land to produce corn, beans, peanuts and millet.

Because drilling water wells has proved unsuccessful, the school is “dependent on water carried by children from a creek, which is some distance away,” George Bunz says.

The installation of storage tanks will be a very important component of the project, as most water will be collected during the rainy season and stored for later use.

Each classroom will have a filter system, to ensure access to clean water.

As part of the project, an existing four-seat toilet will be upgraded and a new four-seat toilet built, along with a solar pump to utilize grey water to flush the toilets.   A bio-digester will convert waste to biofuel to be used in the kitchen to prepare lunchtime meals for the 300 students who attend the school.

“The biogas will make a big difference,” George says. “Currently meals are prepared on stoves that burn wood, which women and children have to carry to the school. The project will relieve the women of this task so they have time for other work and will improve the environment by eliminating the smoke from burning wood.”

Funding for this project (in US dollars):

Rotary Club of Wainwright $14,250

District 5370 DDF $14,250

TRF World Fund $21,375

Total:$49,875

Projects will bring clean water to 800 residents of villages in rural Ecuador

Construction of the water system in Santa Teresa will begin after the end of the rainy season in March.

The project involves drilling and encasing a water well, creating storage and water treatment facilities, laying distribution lines to each residence, and installing water meters.

Rotary will sign memorandums of agreement with Ecuador’s federal and municipal governments, which will provide paid staff to operate the system.

The long-term sustainability of the project will be ensured by the establishment of an elected water board, whose members will be trained to operate the system.

A public education component will teach adults about water conservation and how to avoid contamination. Teachers will be trained to take a similar message into their classrooms.

Funding for this project (in US dollars):

Rotary Club of Spruce Grove $9,375

Districts 5370 & 4400 DDF $8,860

Government of Alberta $7,750

TRF World Fund $17,423

Total$43,408

Rotarians from both Wainwright and Spruce Grove plan to visit their projects during construction.

Volunteering with Project Amigo was a life-changing experience for former district governor

Migrant Camp

Children from a migrant camp

In 2008, Past District Governor (2005-06)  Elly Contreras (Rotary E-Club of Canada One) and her husband and fellow Rotarian, Ramiro, arrived in Colima, Mexico, for a volunteer week with Project Amigo, with the expectation that “we will be changing lives.”

What they didn’t realize was that the lives that would be changed were theirs. 

“Ten years ago, we came for a week of volunteering, not expecting the enormous impact it would make on our lives,” Elly says. 

“I became a different person, with an appreciation for life I never expected. The little seed that was planted by Project Amigo grew and created a bond that brought me closer to the culture [of Mexico] and its people. I am proud to be part of the lives of so many young people who have so much potential. I have seen them develop into confident young adults. All they need are people like us, who empower them, support them and tell them they are worthy.”

Project Amigo was established in 1984, by two Rotarians from California, to provide educational opportunities to children from poor Mexican families who would likely have little hope without the organization’s support. The Project Amigo Canada Society was formed in 2008, with Elly as its first president.

Darrel Martin (RC of Edmonton Northeast), the current president of the board of directors for Project Amigo Canada, says, “Project Amigo takes kids from elementary school age up now to university. Seventy-one have graduated from university. When I first went there in 2008 there wouldn’t have been anyone in university.

“There is a lot of pressure from the family to go to work to help the family, because these families have almost no money,” Darrel says. “For boys, if their fathers work in the sugar cane field, there’s pressure on them to go to work in the sugar cane field. That’s part of the cultural thing we are working against with the program, but as time goes by, more and more are graduating and getting jobs and people see that is a good thing.”

He believes that attitudes are changing. 

“Parents are realizing the bigger picture and thinking that my son or daughter is going to be able to do more for this family if we suck it up now and allow them to go to school. 

During Project Amigo workweeks, volunteers assist with construction projects,  deliver books and other materials to schools, and work with the children.

Volunteers and Staff

Project Amigo staff and volunteers

Many of the volunteers are Rotarians, but not all. “There have been non-Rotarians who have gone down there, and then come back and joined Rotary,” Darrel says.

To learn more about workweeks, or to volunteer to spend a week in Cofridia, in the state of Colima, visit the Project Amigo Canada website.

Since their first workweek, Ramiro and Elly returned often to work with the Project Amigo staff and now spend half the year in Mexico, where Elly serves as the Canadian Intermediary/Co-ordinator with Project Amigo.

“We have learned so much about this beautiful culture, its kind people and the hardship many of the indigenous people face on a daily basis,” she says.

“We have seen shy, insecure, barefooted, snotty-nosed eight-year-olds from the migrant camps, with no way out of the continuous cycle of poverty, develop into confident students, excited to have finished high school and enrolled in university—something which is unheard of in this culture. We have met many grateful parents, proud of having their child as the first one in their family continuing beyond primary school.”

Darrel sees evidence of the value of the program in the success of some of its graduates. “The village of Cofridia has had two mayors, who both are lawyers, who have come through the program,” he says.

Another example of the program’s success is a young man who completed university and now works for an export company. “I asked him, ‘What would have become of you if it had not been for Project Amigo?’ He said, ‘I would be working in the sugar cane fields.’ ”

In addition to participating in volunteer workweeks, you can support Project Amigo by sponsoring individual students. Currently, more than 300 students are supported in this fashion, including 76 who have Canadian sponsors: 39 in elementary school, 11 in junior high, 12 in high school, 13 in university and one in technical school.

“Our goal is to increase the number of students sponsored by Canadians to 100 by the end of 2018,” Elly says.

It costs $135 to sponsor a student in elementary school and $765 for a junior/senior high student. With the cost to sponsor a university or technical school student $5,000 or more, it’s common for several individuals or Rotary clubs to combine their resources for those sponsorships.

Representatives of Project Amigo have a booth at the RI Convention in Toronto and are often in the House of Friendship at District conferences.

“Project Amigo has changed my life,” Elly says. “It has given me a better understanding of who I am as a person. It may change yours too.”

 

2018: the best year to attend a Rotary International Convention

RotaryConvention2018District Governor Frank Reitz hopes that Rotarians from District 5370 will take advantage of the proximity of the 2018 Rotary International Convention to attend it when it takes place June 23 to 27, in downtown Toronto. 

Click here to register.

“It’s not going to be any closer than in 2018 for several years,” District Governor Frank Reitz says. “It’s going to be more affordable because hotels and other expenses will be in Canadian dollars.”

Wait until next year to attend a RI Convention and you will face a transatlantic flight, including the requirement to make connections at two or more airports before arriving in the host city, Hamburg, Germany. In subsequent years, conventions are scheduled for Honolulu (2020) and Taipei, Taiwan (2021). 

The RI Convention won’t be in North America (Houston, Texas) again until 2022 and won’t return to Canada until 2025, when it’s scheduled for Calgary.

“I think that a RI convention is a great event for any Rotarian to attend. You are able to getter a better sense of Rotary as a worldwide organization of which your club is part,” Frank says. 

“When 25- to 30,000 Rotarians get together as a community, it’s a good opportunity to see Rotary from different perspectives and realize its potential to have a positive impact in so many ways, in so many places,” Frank says. “It’s a view of Rotary beyond the District.”

Other frequent convention attendees agree. 

From her first convention in Buenos Aires, Brazil, in 2000, Past District Governor (2005-2006) Elly Contreras (Rotary E-Club of Canada One) was hooked. 

“I was so immensely impressed and learned so much that I wanted to go back,” she said. And go back she did, attending the 2001 convention in San Antonio, Texas, prior to becoming president of the Rotary Club of Stony Plain. “It made everything so much easier,” she said. “I was motivated to lead my club.”

Since that convention, she has attended nine more.

Elly encourages others Rotarians to attend to develop “a better understanding of Rotary, beyond the club and District level.”

 Past District Governor (2008-2009) Ross Tyson (RC of Edmonton Northeast) lists several reasons to attend conventions. “Knowledge, a lifetime list of friends in different countries, and the opportunity to meet so many like-minded people.

“Plus you get to see countries that you might not otherwise plan to visit,” which for Ross has included Korea, Thailand and Portugal. The first of the 12 conventions he attended was in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1995.  

Ross feels there are several benefits for Rotarians who attend a RI convention. “They will be surprised, if it is their first convention, by all the Rotary information and the world of Rotary. It will change your mindset about Rotary,” he says. “Conventions are hands-down the best learning experience for Rotarians.”