Project fairs combine business, pleasure
Juan Prinz, 2007-08 governor for District 4400 (Ecuador), discusses Matching Grant procedures with Rotarians at a project fair in Quito, Ecuador, in 2007. Photo courtesy Manuel Nieto
Two upcoming Rotary project fairs in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, and Manta, Ecuador, are successful examples of how such fairs can bring Rotary clubs together on international projects while promoting fellowship and fun.
"Rotary project fairs are a combination of business with a sprinkle of pleasure," says Robert Atta, chair of the West Africa Project Fair (WAPF) in Abidjan, which will take place 5-12 November. "Bringing clubs together ensures that Rotary relationships continue to form and projects get stabilized."
Project fairs give Rotarians the opportunity to promote their club projects to other clubs while establishing face-to-face relationships. The goal is to produce international partnerships on humanitarian projects that will help poverty-stricken communities.
The fairs also give Rotarians a chance to socialize with each other and take in some of the host country's cultural and tourist attractions.
WAPF, now in its fifth year, is hosted by 50 Rotary clubs in District 9100 (West Africa). The fair links international partner clubs, mostly from North America and Europe, with projects addressing clean water, hunger, and polio in poor communities in West Africa.
The event will have educational seminars focused on Rotary Foundation programs and a two-day polio immunization program for communities in Abidjan. Approximately 75 international partners are expected to attend the fair, which will include 200 project proposals.
"I'm always encouraged to see the Rotary clubs around the world introduce creative and effective projects that will benefit West Africa," says Atta, also a member of the Rotary Club of Accra, Accra, Ghana, and past governor of District 9100. "Rotary can surely benefit from more project fairs."
Rotarian Manuel Nieto, member of the Rotary Club of Quito and chair of the fifth Ecuador Project Fair in Manta, 17-18 October, says forming partnerships and having fun are a perfect combination.
"We want to make our fair an enjoyable event," says Nieto. "Ecuador is a beautiful country. Giving visitors a unique opportunity to tour our cultural and artistic treasures only makes our project fair more interesting."
After the fair, visiting Rotarians can enjoy a five-day, four-night tour of the Galapagos Islands, or a four-day excursion to the Amazon Jungle.
Nieto says the previous four fairs have proven very helpful for smaller clubs in Ecuador. "Many of these clubs don't have much opportunity except for the fair to establish contacts to develop their humanitarian projects."
Approximately 40 Ecuadorian clubs will host more than 100 visiting Rotarians. Most of the projects this year will focus on improving education, clean water, and children's health.
Nieto sees fairs as a useful tool for any country looking for funding and partnerships for humanitarian projects.
"We have had tremendous success in the previous four fairs. Since the first fair we have doubled the amount given by Rotarians," Nieto notes. "Ecuador's success can show that these fairs can succeed in countries around the world."