Building Communities, Bridging Continents

Wow, is all we can say about our experience in this unique District 5010 International Service Project to Masaya, Nicaragua!  ( Click here to see photos)

   September 5th through 12th 2010, twenty six people from nine different Rotary Clubs stretching from Canada, to Russia, and all over Alaska joined together under the banner of Rotary to build an eight classroom school in two weeks! 

This project began from last year's Wheelchair Distribution of 820 wheelchairs.  During the September 2009 Wheelchair project we visited the Masaya, Nicaraguan School.  The pollution and fumes from this LARGE POWER PLANT directly across the street were poisoning the school children and teachers.   This sparked the momentum for which the Soldotna Rotary Club joined together Clubs throughout District 5010 to partner again with the Masaya Nicaragua RC. 

  This Rotary project began when the Nicaraguan based Project Hope, a co-operating organization, helped organize this school construction project.  The trip was filled with lots of construction work but, we also allowed time to share with the 80 volunteer Nicaraguan workers and over 100 students the values of the Four Way Test.  Each work day we highlighted a different country, one day it was Russia, then Canada, and Alaska.  Other team members shared about their countries of Columbia, Cameroon, Chile, and Sweden. The students and workers learned that Rotary is truly an International Service Organization.

  Team One, a Project Hope team from Missouri jump started this project followed by Team Two, the District 5010 team; successfully working together to see this dream of a new school become a reality for these children.  Team work was defined with a clear goal to finish this school in two weeks!  Both teams working together with the Nicaraguan volunteers sharing leadership gave us the commitment to see this project completed.  Everyone's abilities were needed; the team was full of average people with little or no construction skills, just a heart for "Service Above Self."  The new school will be completed and ready to open in a few short weeks.  

  The enthusiasm started September 2009 when a Soldotna Rotarian, Leonor Fraser said, "We need to move this school!"  Joining in this enthusiasm was Sister Ernestina, head teacher and Catholic Sister from Cameroon Africa who has been in Nicaragua for 8 years.  She had dreamed of a new, safe, pollution free place for the children to be able to study, and grow.  The children are the future of this developing country where unemployment can reach as high as 91%.  The average wage can be as low as $.75 an hour.  This "Building Communities Bridging Continents" project was a perfect example of bringing people, young and old, Rotarians, Inter-Act, and Rotor-Act from; Alaska, Russia, Canada, Columbia, Nicaragua, Chile and Cameroon joined together to be the hands and feet of Rotary. 

  Thanks again to District 5010 for approving the 2 to 1 matching grant that will provide school desks, teacher tables, bookshelf's, computers, goats and chickens for this impoverished school.  Our friends from Taiwan's Taipei Tin-Harbour Rotary Club have joined in with a substantial donation.  In addition, Kenai Peninsula 4-H raised funds at the Alaska State fair, and Rotor Act of Anchorage had several fund raisers to raise additional funds to provide much needed school supplies.

This project was bigger than any one person, yet small enough so each of us can make a difference.  We hope after hearing about this project you too are empowered to Serve Above Self and jump into the power of Rotary!  It only took one person with an idea to build the momentum and see this School become a reality.  The power of Rotary is in your hands. let's get to work; there are many more things that need to be done!

Chuck Cook

Soldotna Alaska Rotary Club,

International Service