District 7710 Makes a Big Difference in the Dominican Republic

Rotarians from across District 7710 renewed our international friendships with our gracious amigos from the Santiago Monumental Rotary Club, Dominican Republic. During the week of February 4–11, 33 volunteers from North Carolina traveled to the Dominican Republic to build 53 latrines, repair three houses, build a community playground and much, much more!

This fifth year’s trip was initiated by Past District Governor Rick Carnagua, who created this ongoing relationship with his counterpart, District Governor Alexandra Martinez from Santiago while attending District Governor School in San Diego. The Central Johnston, Clayton, Cary, Cary MacGregor and Cary Page Clubs provided the initial funds for the District Grant. Almost every club in the district added in to the Community Fund to make this endeavor a smashing success.

PDG Rick has had additional District 7710 support from other 7710 District Governor’s experiencing the trip first-hand, Leigh Hudson, Matthew Kane, Newman Aguilar, Rusine Sinclair and Barry Phillips are all Dominican Republic veterans. Even District Governor Elect Shafi was set to go this year until he encountered his Pickle Ball predicament. Rick brought in Martin Tetreault to handle the planning of the project agenda with his counterpart, David Crow. Linda Sproat jumped on board to coordinate all of the volunteer travel plans, special requests & communication information and rooming details. Once our team arrived, George Harry, Ron Blackley and Rex Everhart herded the on-the-ground volunteer activities and work with our gracious hosts, the Santiago Monumental Rotary Club Team.

The efforts of the Santiago Monumental Rotarians before, during and after our week in Santiago were, as their name depicts, “Monumental”! Arranging for a week’s worth of food, transportation, lodging, and entertainment for 33 North Carolina 7710 Rotarians would be hard enough. Then came the challenges of building latrines, repairing dilapidated homes and creating a community playground.

The Dominican Rotarians leading their efforts were David Crow – Master Planner; Cesar Lopez – Club President and Los Cocos Community Coordinator; Rafael Lopez – Playground, Maximo Dominguez – Latrine Construction, Diana Abreu and Rosalina Dominguez – Entertainment and Community / Family Supplies; Ricardo Jimenez – Financial Controller. Even the Rotaract and Interact clubs brought high energy exciting the local youth with songs and games during the playground ceremonies.

The latrines were a combined effort of the actual families digging the holes, Maximo & Aneury & crew pouring the slabs and stools, transporting them over the holes and laying a layer of concrete blocks as the base for the walls. The NC Team cut the wood siding and frame lumber. Then assembled the pieces in place, adding a zinc roof and a door with a Rotary Wheel painted on it. The Santiago Monumental Rotarians coordinated with the local Rotary Corp in Los Cocos to locate latrine sites for the (53) selected families needing latrines to improve sanitary conditions. Ron Blackley lead our latrine team finishing on Thursday allowing a little time for celebrating with the families with supplies of mosquito bed nets, sheets, soap, paper products, sandals, clothing and an assortment of toys supplied by District 7710 Rotarians and the Community Funds donated by our clubs and individuals.

The house repairs were completed on 3 of the 5 selected houses. Material was bought and left for the local families to complete the other houses. Re-siding, re-roofing, building roof supports gave the houses new life. Josh Davis and Mike McLean headed up our housing crew with several others joining them.

The playground project brought a sense of community and enjoyment. Martin Tetreault coordinated the layout and installation with Rafael Lopez and Dinora Borrelly, architect. David Crow and Cesar Lopez negotiated a win-win with the Los Cocos – Jacagua Mayor William. Rex Everhart designed and built the wooden climber, truck, tire trees, and benches. The grandmothers were all smiles when they found out they could sit, talk and watch the children play. Seesaws, swings, jogging path and a tire picnic table filled the park with painted tire dividers brightening the layout. The centerpiece was the Dragon made out of painted tires. The Opening Ceremony can only be described as pure joy!

There was a dedication of the Otra Banda Medical Clinic that our 7710 provided assistance to CISAMA, the Church, the DR Government and Synergies to build. DG Leigh led 5 of our team to participate in their celebration. The medical clinic provides a clean medical building for medical and dental exams and treatments.

The week was not all work. Our group was taken up into the mountain village of Jarabcoa where a resort provided us a Sunday buffet, a mountain river and pools to swim, and magnificent trails and hanging bridges to wander. The annual Carnival Celebration was over the top with a parade, music and entertainment from various groups all over Santiago. Diana Abreu arranged a VIP viewing stand that put us almost in the parade itself. Every evening meal was special as we experienced The Santiago Monumental meeting including a visit from their DG Morris Tallaj and Monumental’s own DGE Roberto Almonte greeting our PDG Leigh. A country cooking demonstration was brought to the Fab Workshop by Yanet Dominguez and Lydia Sanchez including fire pit brewed coffee and yummy coconut / cocoa desserts. The Finale Celebration Friday night was highlighted with our awarding Maximo Dominguez with a Paul Harris Fellow along with a “PDG Barry Phillips” framed watercolor of the first latrine built in 2013. Yes there was a trip to the Porto Plata Beach, the Lopez Cigar Factory, the Leon Museum and a power-shopping lunch in downtown Santiago.

There is only one-way to truly understand the heart-filling experience that we were privileged to have. Just start making plans to join us for the next Dominican Republic 2018 Adventure.

Zimbabwe Eye Project     

Life in Zimbabwe, where more people have HIV than full-time jobs, would hardly be recognizable to many in the towns and suburbs of North Carolina Rotary District 7710.

But the Morrisville Rotary Club is trying to connect the two. A former native of Zimbabwe, Keith Holshausen is spearheading the Morrisville Rotary Club’s push to raise money for a medical project that serves the impoverished country in southern Africa.

“Those people are very marginalized,” Holshausen said. “So if we don’t help them, who will?”

The Morrisville Rotary Club is partnering with the Rotary Club of Victoria Falls, where Holshausen has contacts from his travel business.

The clubs hope to raise funding in time for the Zimbabwe Eye Project trip, in July 2015.

“We’re expecting to see 1,000 to 2,000 patients,” Holshausen said. “It’s quite a substantial project.”

The team of six will include five doctors from the USA. Volunteers will assist as they dispense thousands of pairs of donated glasses and give vitamin A supplements to children.

“There are tremendous vitamin A deficiencies (VAD) there, and the children get corneal scars and go blind,” Holshausen said which is a humanitarian concern with a huge socioeconomic impact too.

The high education rate in Zimbabwe does give him hope, he said, for another goal of the medical project – to train local doctors and nurses so the country’s medical needs aren’t as reliant on Western charity and the project can meet Rotary’s goals of sustainability.

Zimbabwe Eye Project: OBJECTIVES

  • To work towards eradication of diseases, such as preventable blindness, that devastates families
  • To partner with Zimbabwean doctors and nurses in the training of medical personnel to improve the treatment of eye diseases and to provide basic training for the dispensing of eye glasses.

To learn more about the Morrisville Rotary Club go to www.morrisville.rotary-clubs.org or email Rotarian Keith Holshausen at keith@lazylizardtravel.com  (Credit to Cary News for extracts from a recent interview).

Boys and Girls Home Receives Donation from Rotary

At the Boys and Girls Home of North Carolina’s annual Rotary Day, they received almost $24,000 in donations from Districts 7710 and 7730. Numerous clubs lined up to present their donations to Gary Faircloth, the president and CEO.  The Clayton Morning Club made the largest single club donation of $5,000 from the proceeds of their Derby Day fundraiser held last May.

Since 1966 Rotary has supported a house at the Boys and Girls Home campus, located at Lake Waccamaw. Over almost five decades, hundreds of young people suffering from physical and verbal abuse, neglect and even sexual abuse have found refuge and a new, brighter future at this facility.

Most of these funds will go towards supporting Flemington Academy, a public charter middle and high school associated with the Boys and Girls Home campus that provides a unique educational opportunity for 75 students, of which 45 are from the Home.

Happy Feet Champion – Henderson Rotarian – Robert Nelson 

Robert Nelson of the Henderson Rotary Club got the Happy Feet spirit early this Rotary year!  He has already donated 25 pairs of athletic shoes on behalf of his club through his company, SporTrax. This ensured each foster child in Vance County has a new pair of athletic shoes.  Kudos for being the first club in District 7710 to meet their Happy Feet goal.

Happy Feet is the district-wide service project that encourages District 7710 Rotary clubs to donate new athletic shoes for middle and high school aged children in foster care. The Children’s Home Society and county social services agencies are our partners to identify and distribute the athletic shoes that will be packaged at the 2017 District Conference being held April 7-8, 2017 in Raleigh, NC.

Crabtree Rotary present $10k to Ronald McDonald Home Charities

Members of Crabtree Rotary Club and their guests gather at Agora Restaurant in downtown Raleigh on a sweltering summer evening to officially install their 2016-17 officers.  During the event, a check for $10,000 was presented to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of North Carolina.

Child’s Cup Full

A children’s toy brand: creating jobs for talented refugee women artisans in the West Bank

Cayley Pater was RYLA participant at Chapel Hill High School in 2003 and a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship finalist through the NC Oxford Rotary Club in 2010. After finishing her Master’s Degree in Women’s and Gender Studies at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, she is now the Assistant Director of Child’s Cup Full, a non-profit social enterprise serving refugee and low-income communities in the West Bank.

In the West Bank, limited access to the global marketplace prevents many talented Palestinian refugee women from building careers with their craft and design skills. Dr. Janette Habashi, Associate Professor in educational psychology at the University of Oklahoma, and I are determined to create business opportunities for these women right here in the US. Our objective is to train and employ women to make high quality, handmade children’s toys and accessories that are marketable in the US and to sell our products online and through retail stores across the country. We believe that instead of creating a charity model of support for these women, we can establish a self-sustaining business that will generate more opportunities for years to come.

childsCupFull2Many families lack a stable income in the West Bank because of precarious employment opportunities. We have several women who are the primary breadwinners of their families for long periods, which contributes to their social standing in the community. Nowadays, we’ve seen increasingly more organizations and US government agencies talking about the power of the artisan sector: “Behind agriculture, artisan activity is the second largest employer in the developing world,” Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, partner of the US State Department for the Global Campaign for Artisans. We are so excited to be part of this global movement to empower the artisan sector in the West Bank, where access to global business opportunity is severely limited.

We have had several artisans tell us that with a full-time job, their husbands and their family members give them more respect, including Abeer, who has been making children’s toys at the Child’s Cup Full artisan center since 2012:

“Women need to work; not stay home… They need to go out and obtain their own salary and help their families. We now have so many expenses to educate our children, pay for rent, transportation, and food…I came to Child’s Cup Full almost two years ago not knowing how to do anything tatreez (embroidery) and now I am able to make toys for kids.”

childsCupFull3As a non-profit social enterprise, Child’s Cup Full uses the funds generated from product sales to support its training and employment programs in hard-to-reach communities in the West Bank.  CCF aims to grow its own artisan center, and to train and employ women in artisan collectives across the region, including Ramallah, Hebron and Beit Jala, to manufacture products for the Child’s Cup Full brand.

Right now, we are trying to raise funds to expand our reach across the West Bank region. In order to create positive, lasting change in the West Bank in 2016, and in years to come, I invite the Rotarian community to help us grow our artisan center so that we can create more training and employment opportunities in the Zababdeh community, in and vulnerable communities across the West Bank. On our Indiegogo campaign, you can learn more about our initiative, our goals for 2016, and the funds we are trying to raise to increase our impact:


For each donation, you’ll receive a handmade gift from our artisan center in Zababdeh! Thank you for your support!