- Published on Tuesday, 12 July 2005 20:42
- Written by Bruce Barton - Town Crier Staff Writer
The Los Altos Rotary Club's World Community Service committee is helping people by the thousands, Supporters said the overall investment is only 50 cents per person.
In poor countries such as Kenya, Nepal, Afghanistan and Guatemala, Los Altos Rotarians are active participants, providing needed basics like clean water and creating a climate for jobs to help people in remote villages meet survival needs and beyond.
The local Rotary has participated in World Community Service projects the past eight years. Two or more Rotary clubs from different countries must be involved in the efforts. The focus, said Rotarian Bob Adams, is creating a project that affects the greatest number of people possible with a one-time funding source. The outcome of such projects enables people to help themselves.
Addressing poverty in underdeveloped nations can do more than turn lives around, said World Community Service member Allart Ligtenberg.
"If you solve the poverty situation, it means less terrorism," he said.
World Community Service members offered an update on the committee's efforts at the June 16 Los Altos Rotary meeting.
Local Rotarians raise funds matched by the Rotary regional district and Rotary International for a variety of projects. These have included establishment of a free medical clinic in Tacaton, Guatemala; a bakery for creating jobs in Lima, Peru; and construction of a piping system to provide fresh water to mountain villages in Nepal.
A series of recent projects providing water purification, sewage disposal and solar cooking have benefited approximately 7,000 villagers in Nepal at an investment of approximately 50 cents per person, Lightenberg said.
Ligtenberg, whose solar cooking solutions in Nepal involving simple devices were covered in a June 15 Town Crier story, also introduced an alternative sewer system to villagers.
He taught them to collect their waste in buckets instead of contaminating their water, They could mix the waste with sawdust and leaves and turn it into useful compost over a two-year period.
A major focus of World Community Service projects is educating and empowering women, Adams said.
Ligtenberg said committee members are helping women with family planning and job training, removing them from dangerous jobs and prevailing sexist attitudes that have kept them oppressed.
Another of Ligtenberg's projects involved a group of women risking injury as they crushed rocks into pebbles to sell for road gravel. They were retrained to make briquettes from a kind of biomass slush. The briquettes, after firing in a stove, could be used as building materials.
With the philosophy of teaching "how to fish instead of giving them the fish," as Ligtenberg put it, the local Rotary has funded nine projects for 2004-2005, totaling approximately $14,000. Adams said volunteers are "looking to expand the numbers of dollars" in support of local Rotary efforts internationally.
For more information about World Community Service projects or to make a donation, call Ligtenberg at 948-8294 or visit www.losaltosrotary.org.