Canadian Rotaractors’ award-winning project aiding Nicaraguans
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, are witnessing significant improvements to sanitation and school conditions, thanks to Project Nicaragua, a technological initiative launched in 2004 by the Rotaract Club of University of Calgary, Canada.
Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, lacks the resources to remedy serious health and sanitation issues. This has caused disease and starvation in many communities. Frustrated by what she saw during a volunteer mission, Rotaractor Lyndsey Rosevear returned home to Calgary and encouraged her club to take action.
Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Calgary, Rosevear and fellow Rotaractors organized Project Nicaragua, a multifaceted initiative focused on improving the quality of life in underdeveloped communities through sustainable technology and resources.
“We are addressing Nicaraguans’ basic human needs and basic human rights through technology, information, and ambition,” says Rosevear, a student at the University of Calgary. She and other club members have visited Nicaragua several times to assist with the project, which is carried out in two phases in each community.
The first phase is aimed at improving sanitation and educational conditions. Traditional open-fire stoves are replaced with concrete-and-brick eco-stoves, which use 50 percent less wood for fuel and reduce smoke inhalation. Biosand water filters are used to create a safer drinking water supply, and composting toilets, which do not contaminate underground water systems, are installed. School buildings in need of repair are also renovated.
The second phase focuses on health care improvements. A local doctor and dentist visit the community four days twice a month to address health issues such as fever, diarrhea, and dental problems. More than 150 people are treated every month.
The club seeks to raise US$50,000 for the project. Members have been garnering funds by hosting an annual Battle of the Bands night, putting on bake sales, and petitioning funds from clubs, businesses, and independent donors.
At the 2007 RI Convention, Project Nicaragua was named the international winner of RI’s 2006-07 Outstanding Rotaract Project recognition. Rosevear credits the project’s success to a support network of motivated Rotaractors: “Our club’s core values and principles are helping to improve the quality of life.”