QUESTION: What can 25 Interact students and US$10,000 accomplish?
ANSWER: A new school roof complete with suspended ceiling, two new flush toilets and a new roof for the toilet facility, along with 55 new desks and a new coat of paint for the building in the small village of San Nicolas, near Comayagua in Honduras.
There was a total of three Interact clubs, two Rotaract Clubs, and two Rotary Clubs involved. They were also supported by a collective group of Rotary Clubs from Vancouver Island and Rotary District 5020.
It all started April 2015, when Rotarian Brian Mather, on a trip to Comayagua to verify the completion of a water project funded by Comox Rotary, saw a three-roomed school in the village of San Nicolas with a rotting roof and a disintegrating, mouldy ceiling.
A preliminary engineer’s report estimated it would cost US$10,000 to replace the existing concrete/asbestos roof, wooden beam supports, and composite ceiling tiles.
When he reported back to the Mark R. Isfeld Interact Club, they determined to help the little school and they set about raising funds – selling cupcakes, volunteering at events, doing odd jobs, conducting their annual safe-driving advertising campaign in conjunction with The Comox Valley Record, and seeking support from other Interact and Rotaract Clubs. Carihi (Campbell River) and Highland Interact Clubs made significant contributions, along with the Rotaract Clubs of the Comox Valley and Victoria. The Comox Rotary Club also contributed and secured grants for US$3,500 plus contributed C$1,250 to help the cause.
In December US$10,000 was sent to the Rotary Club of Comayagua which administered the funds. Work began in January, with the old roof and ceiling being replaced by a new metal roof and suspended ceiling supported by steel girders. The villagers provided volunteer labour, and the Rotarians negotiated such excellent pricing for all the materials that there was a surplus of funds. The next priority was sanitation in the form of washroom facilities –two new flush toilets and a new roof for the existing toilet facilities, and then desks. The 55 new desks replaced stool-like seats that most of the students used. This left a shortfall of 25 desks to equip every student with a proper desk. Again the Interactors quickly raised the funds to complete the task. Every penny was spent on the project. There were no administration costs.
Last month, two Interactors, Kalyssa Heinrich, club president of the Mark R. Isfeld Interact Club, and past president Michelle Ko, travelled to Honduras along with Comox Rotarians Cathy Snyder and Brian Mather to witness the results of their fundraising efforts. Months of work had turned a dream into a reality. The students in the village of San Nicolas have a new roof structure, improved washrooms and new desks and the students here have a sense of pride in their accomplishment, but more importantly, they have a greater appreciation of the concept of helping others. Oh yes, and the Rotarians of Comayagua donated a weekend to paint the exterior walls.
While they were there, the group visited three other schools which had equally dire needs. They have decided that there is more to be done – and being an Interact Club that believes “We can do that!” – more will be done! Stay tuned for their next project!
The Mark R. Isfeld Interact Club thanks everyone who helped make this a memorable achievement for groups of students in both countries.