Just before I was to become President of my club I heard a program at my Rotary Club about the Stove Program in Guatemala. After the program my 82 year old friend said "let's go on this trip." So in January, 2006 we packed and went to install stoves in the remote villages in the poor mountainous areas. It was very hard work but we both agreed that this was a life changing experience made available through Rotary.
While I was in Guatemala I met the Guatemalan Rotarian, Juan Carlos Cheves, who was a member of the Host Rotary Club. I told him that I was about to become President and I wanted my club to be the lead sponsor on a WCS project. I asked him what I could do for his country. His immediate response was that we should help supply clean drinking water to the less fortunate people. Polluted drinking water is a major problem and he had a simple solution. A in house filter system that cost $50 and would supply clean drinking water to a family of 8 for about two years under normal use.
When I got back to Florence, Oregon I called my mentor. I told him what I was going to do and he asked me how large a Grant I would apply for. I had no idea. Our club had only sponsored one WCS project and that was a long time ago. I thought big and said $10,000. He started to laugh and said the minimum should be $25,000. I said Ok, but I was really frightened because I hadn't the slightest clue how to apply for a Grant and get the needed donations. He told me to just ask, which I did via e-mails to the District Club Presidents. I begged and begged and then the pledges started to come in and the project was funded. The filters were delivered and the Grant closed very fast. I said that was easy so I went in for a $50,000 Grant and started the process all over again. Slam dunk. The funds came in, filters delivered and Grant closed in probably a record time. To make a long story short we helped to apply for 10 Rotary Matching Grants, mostly in the $50,000 area, in the first two years, which will help over 80,000 people have clean drinking water. Clubs from many different Districts have become Primary Sponsors and so far 10 of the 24 Rotary Clubs in Guatemala are acting as Host Sponsors. We had a note card fundraiser and sold almost $10,000 worth, mostly to my club members. My feeling is that most people, especially Rotarians, just love to help the needy.
I think every Rotarian should think about doing something like this because it just feels so good. You can do it, just try. I also think that every Rotarian should go on at least one humanitarian trip during their lifetime. Why, because it can become a life changing event.
I am also looking for clubs to be the lead sponsors of their own Water Project. Let me know.
We can help you find Host Rotary Partners.
Simply contact me and let the good times begin.