U.S. Rotarians aid Cuban schoolchildren
Junior high school students give members from the Hispano-Latino Rotary Club of Salt Lake City, USA, a musical welcome on their Cuba trip in November.
Julio Garreaud, international service chair of the Rotary Club of Hispano-Latinos of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, was strolling down a street in Havana, Cuba, when he passed by a local school.
"I caught a glimpse of children in class. Everything – their chairs, tables – [was] very used, of poor quality," he recalls. "That moment created my desire to make a difference with schools."
Garreaud asked 40 Rotarians, friends, and relatives to help him deliver school supplies to Cuba from 23 November to 1 December. They transported about 2,000 pounds of pencils, writing pads, scissors, and other supplies worth US$6,000 to Havana, as well as clothing, shoes, and five wheelchairs. They visited an art school, high school, and an elementary school, chosen as recipients by Garreaud's local contacts.
"Most people don’t realize the situation in Cuba," he says.
Garreaud secured travel permits through a Cuban friend who owns a travel agency. Current U.S. rules allow volunteers to travel to Cuba on humanitarian missions.
Each participant covered all their own travel expenses, plus $500 as a donation to the project. This is the first international project for the Hispano-Latinos club, which was just chartered in March. Garreaud says they are now looking at future projects in Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru.