Rotary Club Honduras Project
by Neal Beard
Lawrenceburg team John Pillow, James Johnston, Charlie Brewer and Neal Beard with La Libertad, Honduras.
Past District Governor James Johnston presented the program on the Lawrenceburg Rotary Club’s World Community Service Team’s recent humanitarian trip to Honduras this past February at the club's May 22, 2009 meeting. The Lawrenceburg club has been actively engaged in water, health, literacy, and quality-of-life projects that address basic needs of the rural poor of Honduras for the last four years.
During that time they have completed four water projects which include drilling wells, constructing above-ground water storage tanks and piping water to individual homes, building individual water storage structures called pilas at each residence, and conducting sanitation seminars to the recipient community; they have brought electricity to small remote villages and installed basic electrical components in each home; they have provided books, school supplies, vitamins and medicines, and made needed building repairs to six separate community elementary schools; they have built new eco friendly cooking stoves that remove harmful smoke from inside individual homes and conducted training seminars on stove construction, maintenance and the energy savings and health benefits the new eco-stove provides.
Rotarian Rick Copeland wiring a home for electricity in Jocote de Linaca.
“This was probably our best year ever,” said James. “We raised over $60,000 dollars and fielded a team of 22 volunteers from five separate Rotary Clubs. We received financial contributions from 8 private donors and over 18 Rotary clubs in our District and one outside our district—the Madison, Alabama Rotary Club.”
“We worked in another small mountain village this year called Jocote de Linaca where we installed electricity and bio-sand (slow sand) water filters in 52 homes. We also donated school supplies, books and individual backpacks for each child in their small elementary school. In addition we also conducted a dental clinic for the community where we brought in six dental professionals who treated over 100 people and removed 286 diseased teeth. And we motivated the local government to make needed repairs to their road. In a separate community—La Libratad, which is over 60 miles away—we drilled a 225’ deep fresh water well.”
Dr. Nelson preparing a patient for tooth extraction.
Neal Beard, the project team leader described the eco-stoves and water filters. “An eco-stove is basically a refinement of their current cook stove. It uses wood for fuel and is built out of adobe and clay bricks mortared together. Their older stoves are open flame and usually have only one opening for cooking. Smoke inundates the entire house severely affecting the health of women and children—especially small children under the age of five. The eco-stove has a pre-engineered firebox which burns with greater efficiency reducing wood consumption by almost 80%. It is ventilated to the outside so that all smoke is removed and has a cooking surface five times larger than their older stoves. The heat is collected under a metal cooking surface called a plancha which evenly distributes the heat generated by the increased combustion of the firebox.
The bio-sand filters are small stand-alone units which require no energy to operate. Water is poured into a basin in the top of the filter box where it must pass through a sand filter bed which removes almost 90% of all impurities before it is collected in a reservoir at the bottom. As the water rises in the reservoir it will discharge through a small spigot into a clean container for consumption. These filters were especially needed in this community which takes its water from a small stream winding through the village. This stream often runs dry and is shared with the community’s livestock and the surrounding wild animals. Families bathe in the water, wash their clothes and dishes, and swim in shallow pools.”
Water Well at La Libertad, Honduras
Neal also commented on the dental clinic, “Our half-day dental clinic was the highlight of our trip this year. The entire village turned-out for the event. Our teams conducted educational classes before the event and distributed personal dental hygiene supplies to each person present. During the clinic about 100 people braved through the doors to be examined by the dental professionals. Of those 100, 86 required tooth extractions. By the end of the morning the team had removed over 286 diseased teeth. One older gentleman came up to me at the end of the clinic and hugged me. He then opened his mouth in a wide smile and pointed to four small craters in the front of his upper gum and held up four fingers—‘cuatro’ he said as his eyes sparkled with tears. He was so happy to be rid of the constant pain.”
This past week at the Rotary District 6760’s annual district conference, the Lawrenceburg Rotary Club was presented with the International Service Award for its contributions to world understanding, peace and humanitarian assistance to Third World countries. Two of the team members, Mark Hayes of the Dyersburg Morning and Neal Beard of the Lawrenceburg Rotary clubs were presented with the prestigious “Service Above Self” award.
James concluded the program with a brief slide show of project activities and Rotarians in action, and Neal and James answered numerous questions from the floor. It was a great meeting and certainly showcased what Rotary really means to us and to the world.
“It is good that we should remember that our donations and gifts can change the world but it should never be forgotten that it’s people who build good will”, Neal Beard.
Thank you Rotary volunteers.
Rotarians Neal Beard, Bert Spearman and
Charlie Brewer at a well in La Libertad, Honduras.