By Leonor Fraser, a member of the Rotary Club of Soldotna, Alaska, USA
“Even the world’s mightiest rivers have humble beginnings.”
Earlier this year, I was part of a team of Rotary members from my district who visited a school in San Jeronimo, Masaya, Nicaragua, to play with the children and deliver shoes. But what we discovered very quickly is the children needed much more than shoes.
Their school is located near a diesel-fuel plant that emits pollutants into the air. It only took a few minutes before members of our team could feel the effects of the air quality on our breathing. Children were lethargic and teachers ill. In addition, the adobe building had significant cracks in its structure and no sanitary latrines. We needed to relocate the school!
Watching the children at San Jeronimo brought back another memory for me so fresh and so strong. The memory was that of a little girl standing by her father’s side as he grasped for air due to an illness.This 8-year-old, with her limited understanding of the world, attempted to hold her breath as long as possible so that there would be extra oxygen for her dad. But of course it didn’t work, and to her dismay, her father died.
That little girl was me. But this time was different. This time I had the power of Rotary behind me. And all I can say about our service project is wow. There is so much about Rotary that transcends words, culture, language, and differences.
The Rotary wheel began to spin. Pieces began to fall into place. With the help of the Rotary Foundation, 4H, Project HOPE, Rotary members in Masaya, and many Rotary and Rotaract clubs in our district and beyond, a new school was built. There is plumbing, water, clean air, and even a small business enterprise of chickens and goats so families can earn a little money and provide breakfast for the students. In the evening, the building is used for adult education.
Paul Harris said “The greatest of all achievements… are the result of the combined effort of heart and head and hand working in perfect coordination.” The Nicaragua experience was life changing. The Rotary wheel keeps spinning as Rotary members keep on giving.