Honduran Rotarians Visit
by Neal Beard
Three members from the Choluteca, Honduras Rotary Club in Central America, Sergio Salinas, Roger Mondragon, and Juan Carlos, spoke at the Lawrenceburg Rotary Club’s Friday meeting. The visiting Rotarians presented a program on the impact of Lawrenceburg’s World Community Service projects over the last three years in Honduras and personally thanked the Lawrenceburg club for their hard work and invaluable contributions to the lives of over 1500 men, women, and children living in poverty in the remote areas of southern Honduras.
“It has been a wonderful and rewarding partnership,’ said Sergio Salinas, president of the Choluteca Rotary Club.
Roger Mondragon, the Choluteca Rotary Club’s WCS chairman, had this to say to the Lawrenceburg’s WCS team, “We have been overwhelmed with the kindness, labor, and financial aid that our Lawrenceburg partners have contributed to the success of these projects. We feel like we have found new brothers and sisters—you are like family to us now,”
[A World Community Service (WCS) project is born when Rotary Clubs from two or more countries join together to accomplish a community service project. The WCS program links Rotary clubs needing extra help with clubs in other countries willing to provide funds, materials, and technical and professional assistance.]
Over the last three years members of the Lawrenceburg Rotary Club, and other Rotary Clubs in Middle Tennessee, have travelled to southern Honduras and worked alongside Rotarians from Choluteca, Honduras to improve the lives of people in remote villages living below the cusp of poverty. They have rebuilt schools, provided books and school supplies, and donated needed medicines and vitamins to improve the lives of over 600 children.
They have brought electricity to four communities and built water systems in three others that provide clean safe water that now flows to each home. Mothers and daughters who once had to spend all of their day carrying water, washing clothes by hand against boulders, or laboring over an open fire cooking one tortilla at a time to feed families of seven three meals a day, now have a chance to attend school or find employment to help provide for their families.
The Lawrenceburg Rotary Club encouraged the Rotary Club of Madison, Alabama to join them and the Rotarians from Honduras. For the last two years, ten men and women from Madison have given their time and money to support the Lawrenceburg Rotary Club’s WCS project. In addition to the water and electrical projects, the Madison Rotary Club wanted to address the specific health problems of these communities caused by the rancid smoke that filled each home from the open cook fires (the two largest contributors to infant mortality in Honduras are water born diseases and respiratory infections caused by smoke inhalation).
The Madison and Lawrenceburg clubs designed a cooking stove that utilizes the traditional wood heat source but does so in such a way that wood consumption is reduced to less than a quarter of traditional stoves. The cook fires now produce less smoke which is completely vented from the homes by an ingenious exhaust system that actually helps contribute to the draft that makes the fire burn hotter. With the increased heat from the improved fire box, the team was able to construct a larger cooking surface quadrupling the stoves cooking capacity. Women can now prepare a meal for their families in one-fifth the time as before with less money spent on purchasing firewood. But the greatest benefit of all is the elimination of the lung damaging smoke that has played havoc with the lives of children and mothers for centuries.
“We are very proud of the changes we have made in the lives of the people in these small villages, said Sergio Salinas. To go back to any one of those villages today is like going to a new place—nothing looks the same. They have improved the appearance of their homes, started small businesses with the aid of electricity, and the people are happy. The schools are full of children. They have improved their roads.
Once, the city of La Libratad, the first community that we worked in with you (the Lawrenceburg Rotary Club), was nothing but a slum on the outskirts of El Triunfo. Now it has become one of Triunfo’s most popular suburbs—people are trying to buy land so they can build there.”
The Honduras World Community service projects have enabled the Lawrenceburg Club to fulfill one of Rotary’s most important areas of service—International Service. They have changed the lives of others far less fortunate, built friendships and bonds with Rotarians all over Middle Tennessee and North Alabama, and discovered new friends in Honduras.
In the words of Rotarian Roger Mondragon from Choluteca, Honduras, “We have discovered a whole new meaning to Rotary because of each of you, our brothers and sisters, in the Lawrenceburg Rotary Club. I hope we are able to work together for many years to come. Thank you for caring.”