Putting their best feet forward for the Rotary Club of Chemainus’ Guatemala team, from left, are: David McCormick, Tom Andrews, Danny Dare, Derek Hardacker and Richard Calverley. Absent for the promo shot was Kim Porter. They’re shown shoe-less to draw attention to the great need for children’s shoes in San Antonio Palopo. (Photo by Art Carlyle)

Chemainus Rotary team busy with projects in Guatemala

Sixth straight year of trips providing much-needed housing, amenities

The Chemainus Rotary Club currently has a six-member team in San Antonio Palopo, Guatemala for the sixth consecutive year to help the local community.

Team leader Tom Andrews outlined this year’s projects as follows: to build one home for a widow and her six children and a second one for another widow and two children; purchase 30 gas stoves for families selected by a local volunteer group of women in the community; help fund a nutrition program for 50 young children needing help reaching their growth potential; purchase water purification canisters for families who don’t have access to clean water; and purchase running shoes for needy children with funds provided by student fundraisers at two French immersion schools in Nanaimo.

David McCormick, Andrews, Danny Dare, Derek Hardacker, Richard Calverley and Kimberly Porter are representing the club on the trip.

This is the fifth trip to Guatemala for Andrews and the second year for McCormick and Hardacker. Calverley has done many humanitarian trips with Rotary but this is the first time in San Antonio Palopo.

Friends of Rotary Porter and Dare are new to the experience this year. Porter is Hardacker’s daughter from Whitehorse and Dare is from Chemainus.

All of the trips would not have been possible without the guidance of Jacqueline and David Sheppard. Jacqueline, who has been going to San Antonio Palopo for many years and has learned to speak Spanish and some of the local language Cakchiquel, recruited several local women to help determine the most in need.

While assessing one of the new housing projects, McCormick advised he was surprised to see chickens running in and out of the house. Besides the single mom and six children, the abode also hosts lots of bugs and some rats. The house floods when water runs down the public foot path outside the door.

All this was going to change when the team completed its work.

Providing shoes became more organized by creating individual templates for each child. The templates were numbered and named in order to get the correct sizes. The shoes were being purchased in San Lucas Toliman Sunday.

This will bring the fundraising project of the French Immersion schools in Nanaimo to fruition.

The group visited the home of Jeremiah and Maria Yolanda on Thursday to check on a house built for them last year. They are very pleased with their home and they saw baby, Derek, named after Hardacker.

The second house was being built by McCormick, Dare and Chris Chart from Nelson Rotary on the side of a hill outside the main town. All the materials had to be carried up many feet by many feet on the ground, including heavy bags of concrete, gravel and wood. Family members were helping out.

The team will be in Guatemala until Monday, Feb. 11. You can follow their activities at chemainusrotaryteam.wordpress.com.

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