A group of Rotarians, including honorary member Governor Helen Kilpatrick, are heading to Guatemala next month to deliver textbooks to secondary schools and open a new computer center.
The group from the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman will join up with other volunteers from Rotary clubs in the U.S., the U.K. and Canada.
They will be working with nonprofit organization Cooperative for Education, which provides education resources, scholarships and training opportunities to indigenous Mayan schoolchildren in Guatemala’s central and western highlands.
Derek Haines, a veteran of previous Rotary trips to the region, said the group would cover hundreds of miles over bumpy roads in mountainous terrain to deliver textbooks and other materials to under-resourced schools in remote areas.
He said Rotary Grand Cayman supports the charity financially and provides funds for sporting equipment as well as sponsoring a school. Over the years, Cayman Rotarians have provided the funds for computers, books and a toilet block at one school, and some of the attendees sponsor students in the scholarship program.
“Rural Guatemala has one of the highest rates of poverty, illiteracy, and inequality in the Western Hemisphere,” he said.
He said the Cooperative for Education program works like the butterfly theory, where small deeds can make big changes. He said the aim is to blow a “strong wind of change” through impoverished communities and break the cycle of poverty.
Chris Johnson, who will be on the trip for the third time, said, “What I have seen and experienced in the past two years has been impressive and heartwarming. 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.”
According to Trevor Neckles, another veteran of multiple trips to the Central American country, the Cooperative for Education has helped children in 300 communities across Guatemala.
“Currently, there are more than 25,000 children using CoEd textbooks, 17,000 students being trained at CoEd computer centers, 33 schools with the Culture of Reading Program, and 669 one-year scholarships given,” he said.
The trip takes place from Feb. 6 to 14.