2006-2007 Water Project

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11 Local Rotary Clubs joined together to complete

a major water project in Cojomachaj, Guatemala


Eleven local Rotary Clubs joined together to fund a project that brought fresh drinking water to a needy community in Guatemala.  Clubs from Bloomfield, E-Club, East Hartford, East Windsor, Glastonbury, Manchester, Rockville, South Windsor, Suffield, West Hartford and Wilbraham-Hampden, MA raised $24,000 to build a complete gravity fed water system, with gray water filters, vented pit latrines and Onil stoves for the 52 families that live in the rural community of Cojomachaj, Guatemala.  Almost half of the money, $10,000 was donated by the Glastonbury club.


Two major goals of Past District 7890 Governor Susan Atkins were for every Rotary Club in the District to support an international water project and for clubs to make an effort to work together, adding size and strength to their chosen projects.  Assistant Governor Mark Greer from the Glastonbury Rotary Club coordinated the effort with the 6 club presidents in his area.  The chosen project was selected through the efforts of Rotarian Rick Lawrence of the Manchester Rotary Club who had contacts in Guatemala from previous visits to the area.  He and Manchester Club President Marty Fins presented the project to the area clubs as well as several other Rotary clubs in Greater Hartford.  The addition of the Bloomfield and West Hartford clubs made the project truly a regional effort.


The project was coordinated through Behrhorst Partners for Development (BPD), a non-profit organization with ties to over 60 communities in Guatemala.  Behrhorst helps train community-chosen people as traditional birth attendants, a health promoter, a village dispensary manager and someone to oversee use of medical emergency transportation funds.  Behrhorst also provides extensive training in nutrition, including help in school and home vegetable gardens, as well as educational talks about family planning and birth spacing.  In Guatemala over 50% of children suffer from chronic malnutrition.


This Rotary project helped address some of the basic causes of poor health in this area, and will continue to help the villagers address basic sanitation - water systems, gray-water filters and latrines - in order to help prevent the constant illnesses that afflict the population, particularly children.  The project also provided fuel-efficient stoves, which use less than 1/3 the firewood of their traditional open air fires, prevent burns, and vent the smoke outside the house, thereby helping to prevent upper respiratory problems. 


This project was started in March 2006 and was fully completed by June 2007.  In March 2007 Rick Lawrence and his wife visited Cojomachaj to see first hand the on-going construction and donate a dedicatory plaque engraved with the names of the 11 Rotary Clubs which provided the funds.  This visit was arrangement by BPD and turned into a day of celebration.  Rick has made a power point presentation of the project's timeline and features numerous photographs of the day spent in Cojomachaj as well as scenes in other parts of this picturesque country.  He presented this during the first plenary session at this spring's District Conference in Hyannis, MA.   In June PDG Atkins received word that the project was the recipient of RI's "Best Cooperative Project Award", the only project so honored in eastern United States. He is willing to make presentations to clubs interested in how the project developed or in joining with other clubs to raise money for another similar project in a neighboring Guatemalan village or villages.


July 27, 2007