San Cap Rotary in Guatemala

In April four Rotarians (Past Presidents Bill Rahe, John Grey and Chet Sadler along with Assistant Governor Area 4 Clark Rambo) visited Lake Atitlan, Antigua and Huehuetanango in Guatemala meeting with the local project coordinators to see the impact of the projects on the local community and give thanks for all the hard work they have done. $48,000 was given to these projects in the form of grants, fund raising profits, and micro financing loans to support the poor struggling communities.


The visiting Rotarians first stop was along the shores of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala meeting with the Ija’tz Coffee Coop. Their coffee fields, located on the side of a volcano overlooking the lake, have been devastated by the coffee Roya or leaf rust. This fungus causes the leaves to fall off and eventually the plant dies. The $5,000 grant given the coop helped fund tree nurseries growing Roya resistant coffee plants and large scale replanting efforts. Funds also went for heavy duty spray equipment for spraying organic solutions on the infected plants. The coop also received expert training on best practices for growing premium coffee and how to brew and taste for the quality of the beans produced.


Guatemala Rotary VP Meijia explains Roya



The Sanibel Captiva club gave a microfinancing loan the La Suiza coffee coop. These funds were raised by the club selling coop coffee at the A&C Fair and at Baileys. The profits go back to the coop. This year the loan amount was $12,000. This is an agriculture loan given to the coffee farmer based on the amount of coffee he grows. The loan is paid back after the funds are received from selling their coffee in the US premium market. This is the fourth year for this loan project. It has allowed the coffee farmers to sell their coffee at a much higher price and have money to support their family and grow their farms. Due to the long distance to La Suiza (3 day trip) the group could not make the trip to the village. They were given details by the De La Gente. A company that organizes the Coop efforts.


La Suiza village

The small village of La Suiza high in the mountains of Guatemala


The next stop was Huehuetanago Guatemala. The Sanibel Captiva Rotary Club donates to the Huehuetanago Rotary club a container load of 110 wheel chairs. The Huehue Rotary Club are experts in distributing wheel chairs to the needy in the far reaches of this mountainous state. This container load cost $22,000. Thanks to the Wheel Chair Foundation, Sanibel Captiva Rotary received matching funds to help get the total funding. To receive this matching grant the Wheelchair Foundation requires the local Rotary Club meet rigid requirements to assure the wheel chairs meet the need. Some of the requirements include a doctor’s prescription approving the persons need, signed pledge that the user will not sell the wheelchair and notify the Huehue Club if there is a mechanical problem so they can get it fixed. The person has to be measured to get the right size wheelchair and understanding of how the chair will travel to choose the type of wheel for the chair. In the communities where the wheel chairs were distributed by the Huehue and Sanibel Captiva Rotarians the atmosphere was joy and happiness. Marimba band music, local food delight and children dance presentations emphasized the impact these wheelchairs have on the community.


Rotarians with young family


Clark Rambo helps



Clark Rambo helps transfer young boy receiving a wheelchair

Finally, the Rotarians sat down with Michael Ewens from the “Ripple Effect”. This community building organization is operating in the distant mountain Ixil region of Guatemala. This small village was caught up in the civil war between rebels and the Guatemala army. Over 2/3rd if the population lost their lives in the war. The Ripple Effect has received the largest International grant of $16,000 from the Sanibel Captiva Rotary Club. Michael has lived in the community for over 3 years helping the Ixil Indians rebuild their lives with water & sanitation systems and providing fences, seeds and tools to make nutritional organic home gardens Recently they have received solar cells lighting up their homes for the first time. Mr. Ewens hands on effort has helped over 150 families rebuild their lives.

Rotary is an International organization. One of their goals is to help those that are in need locally and internationally