The Rotary Club of Edina is giving back in Guatemala.
The Rotary Club of Edina is focused on humanitarian issues and serving others to make a difference within local, state and worldwide communities. The club in Edina was started in 1957 and is open to anyone who currently resides or is involved in business here. One of the large projects they have been working on for several years is the Escuintla Global Grant International Project. Since the majority of the population in Guatemala did not have access to clean water for drinking and bathing, the club decided to provide sanitation methods and deliver safe water to the citizens through a separate Cobán project.
“International service is one of Rotary’s areas of service. We are always looking for service projects to complete or work on in other countries,” says Jennifer Bennerotte, City of Edina communications and services technology director and current member (and past president) of the Rotary Foundation Board of Directors.
The Cobán project is being completed with the help of the Edina Rotary Foundation and a small international grant in collaboration with four other clubs and district 5950 totaling $15,000 as well as a large donation from St. Patrick’s Church which amounted to $14,000.
Last spring, from April 26–May 3, a group of 27 Rotarians from different area clubs, as well as five parishioners from St. Patrick’s Church, took a trip to Cobán, Guatemala to oversee the project and its impact on the community. The leader of the Cobán project and trip to Guatemala was Josh Sprague, a member since 2008 and current president of the Rotary Club of Edina.
During the trip, they delivered and assembled 659 water filtration units to households in six villages where families desperately needed clean water. The units are serving the water needs of six–10 people in a household, which will help between 4,000 and 6,000 people total.
“The carbon filters in the units last five years, and very often the local monastery arranges for replacements when they are doing another delivery,” Sprague says.
During 2018, the Rotary Club was part of a Global Grant Water Project in Escuintla, Guatemala. That project cost $400,000 and provided the city with a well, water tower and chlorination hut as part of a complete water system. During this trip, volunteers visited the area where the water system is running.
“We actually were there to open up the water main. The locals threw a parade in the streets and had a ceremony complete with dances and music in our honor,” Sprague says.
The group was also able to visit the Escuintla Regional Hospital, which they hope will be the site of their next global project. The hospital provides care to the 16 million residents in Guatemala and has the largest pediatric center in the country.
Visitors discovered that the hospital did not have enough water supply and 50 percent of that water, lacking in quantity, is contaminated by E. coli. They also found that the rooms did not have exam tables and they were in dire need of new restrooms as well as antimicrobial floors and walls to keep the patients and doctors safe.
“We are now embarking on an assessment of the hospital to see what can be done to remedy these conditions, and will pursue another global grant project in the $400,000–$500,000 range to save lives here,” Sprague says.
This past September following their return, they asked doctors Sofia Posadas, M.D., and Jimmy Menendez, M.D., to travel to Minnesota and educate the Rotary Club and other local Rotarians about the needs of the hospital so the project will be effective in ensuring that the hospital is cleaner and safer.
“When the doctors visited our club, one woman donated $25,000 on the spot to make improvements at the hospital,” Bennerotte says.
If you’d like to get involved, contact the Rotary Club of Edina.