As a member of a 37 person Rotary work team that traveled to the Dominican Republic last month, I saw firsthand the power Rotary can bring to a poor community seeking to carve out a better future for themselves and their children. Armed with a $34,000 Global Grant from The Rotary Foundation, we partnered with Rotarians from the Santiago Monumental Club to build and install 94 latrines for families living in homes constructed of wood planks with weathered tin roofs.
The highlight of the trip for me was the afternoon I spent at their community school, Santa Maria, in a classroom of High School Juniors. This school is a public school but Santiago area Rotarians have solicited the help of local foundations to invest resources and vision to give the school the look and feel of a private school. These students were excited to tell us about the service project they had just completed using a $1000 grant our district had given them one year ago. Over the course of 3 months, these students had approached dozens of homes, knocked confidently on the door, and said “I am a student at Santa Maria School down the street. I would like to paint one wall of your home at no charge. Which of these 7 colors do you prefer?” The reaction in the community was fantastic and the students returned in groups of 2 with paint brushes and youthful vigor. They told me the next problem they want to tackle is reducing litter in the streets by distributing trashcans in key locations. These students are learning they can be agents of change in their own community!
So there it is: we as Rotarians identified the need for improved sanitation, rolled up our sleeves, and made a small dent in a global problem. Along the way we helped the community help themselves. I am proud to be a Rotarian. I hope you are too.
Matthew Kane, District Governor 2014-2015
Rotary International 7710
How Lives are Changed
“A mentally, emotionally, and physically challenging week in/around Santiago, Dominican Republic. Partnering with the fantastic hard working Club, Rotario Santiago Monumental, on building 90+ latrines and planning the foundation for a health and sanitation program for the years to come starting at the schools. Each person pictured and those who aren’t, yet helped us, are the most amazing people I’ve ever met and got to build a stronger relationship with each and every day side by side for a true Service Above Self mission!”
Patrick McCoy of the Cary MacGregor Rotary Club
The Dominican Republic Clean Water project had four objectives:
- Build latrines
- Provide water filters
- Teach the importance of hand washing, and
- Meeting basic community needs
During the one week, the 37 Rotarians accomplished the following:
- Build 95 latrines, making for a total of 250 over the last three years
- Renovated 26 homes
- Provided educational sessions on leadership, public health and nursing
- Held a health screening session attended by over 400 people
- Provided sheets, towels and other household items to families
The following montage of pictures were provided from the various photographs posted on the Rotary Dominican Latrine Project Facebook page by Pat Bridges, David Crowe, Patrick McCoy, Kelly Norman, Subir Mukherjee and Carlos Pantaleon.