Rotarians head to Guatemala

Six Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman are set to travel to Guatemala on Jan. 31 to deliver books to secondary schools and help open a new computer center.

Trevor Neckles, Brian Hurley, Lawrence Edwards, Alistair Walters, along with past presidents Chris Johnson and Derek Haines, and Rotarians from the U.S., Canada, and U.K., are teaming up to support the Cooperative for Education, known as CoED.

Founded by brothers Joe and Jeff Berninger in 1996, CoED’s mission is to help Guatemalan schoolchildren break the cycle of poverty through education.

The initiative has assisted 300 Guatemalan communities by providing books and computers, training, and scholarships.

The project has also given 25,000 children CoEd textbooks, trained 17,000 students at CoEd computer centers, incorporated the Culture of Reading Program in 33 schools, and given 669 one-year scholarships.

During their 10-day trip, Cayman Rotarians will travel through the mountainous terrain to carry out their mission. Mr. Neckles is no stranger to Guatemala – this will be his sixth visit to the country. “Through the programs, the organization strives to address the root causes of poverty in Guatemala, rather than merely treating its symptoms,” he said.

Mr. Haines, who has also visited Guatemala several times, said, “Rural Guatemala has one of the highest rates of poverty, illiteracy, and inequality in the Western Hemisphere. One out of every two adults cannot read or write. The vast majority of indigenous young people drop out of school before reaching the sixth grade. Without education and training, they will repeat the cycle of poverty.”

Mr. Johnson, making his first trip, said, “I really am excited about going and seeing the project first hand. The enthusiasm shown by my Rotary chums is infectious and I feel the project is rewarding and most worthwhile. This is what Rotary is all about.”

Rotary Grand Cayman has provided funds for sporting equipment and is sponsoring a school this year. Cayman attendees have provided the funds for computers and a toilet block at one school. Additionally, Mr. Neckles and Mr. Haines each sponsor a student in the scholarship program.