By Jerry Olson, past president of the Rotary Club of Metro Roxas Central, Capiz, Philippines
When then President-elect M.A.T. Caparas, the only RI president from the Philippines, introduced the Rotary Community Corps (RCC) program in 1985, I’ll bet he didn’t envision the effect it would be having on the world today.
His vision for RCC’s has improved the quality of life in villages, neighborhoods, and communities all over the world. There are now around 7,500 RCC’s in over 80 countries.
RCC’s are not made up of Rotary members. They are people living in their communities. They may be farmers, tricycle drivers, or even retired people. But they hold one thing in common – they each are committed to their community’s long-term development and self-sufficiency.
As a Rotary member, we are only here to help you form a RCC and teach you how to make it successful at improving your community. You want your RCC to last a lifetime and continue to help your community prosper. Let me give you an example of a successful RCC.
In 2011, a member of the Rotary Club of Metro Roxas suggested looking for a way to bring water to the impoverished barangay of Ameligan, an island community surrounded by the ocean and the Panay River in the municipality of Pontevedra, Capiz. We brainstormed, did our homework to draw up a sustainable project, and applied for a Rotary Foundation grant. We wanted residents of Ameligan to manage our project. So we asked them if they would be interested in forming an RCC, and they were excited to do so!
Even after Typhoon Yolanda ravaged their island, they were able to rebuild the damaged parts of the water system and bring it back bigger and better.
We went to Ameligan with professional trainers to teach the residents how to manage both the RCC and the water project. Within a few months, we had found an international partner, lined up support from the Rotary Clubs of Pomona and Metro Roxas and Districts 3850 and 5300, and received approval for our grant.
Now the fun began. In January 2012, the RCC provided labor for the project and formed the anchors needed to cross the river and resist the strong currents. By March we had laid five kilometers of piping, built five water stations, made the difficult water crossing, and handed over the water system to the RCC of Genesis Ameligan.
The RCC has been very successful at maintaining and administrating the water system, which has now grown to six water stations serving more than 50 homes. The project has benefited more than 1,600 people who previously had to rely on rainwater or bring over water in boats. The RCC also has been selling the water, using the proceeds to maintain the system and make improvements. Even after Typhoon Yolanda ravaged their island, they were able to rebuild the damaged parts of the water system and bring it back bigger and better.
So if you’re a concerned citizen and want to make a difference in your community, contact your local Rotary Club about organizing an RCC. It’s easy and effective. Contact our club at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want more information about our experience with RCCs.
About the author: Jerry Olson is Rotary Community Corps chairman for District 3850 (Philippines) and a member of the district’s training team.