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ROTARY CLUB NEWS: Rotary Club provides help to El Salvador school

December 22, 2016
By GENE GENGEL - Lake Placid Rotary Club , Lake Placid News

In early 2014, I was part of a group of 14 American and Canadian Rotarians who attended the UNIENDO America Conference in Central America.

UNIENDO is a Spanish word that means UNITING.

Since 1994, Rotary districts in Central America, Belize and Panama have hosted this regional project fair, which is an opportunity for Central American Rotarians to present projects to Rotarians from the U.S. and Canada who are looking for international service partnerships.

Therefore, in winter 2014, I left Lake Placid early one cold and snowy morning while it was still dark. After two plane changes and more than six hours flying time, I arrived and met the group at the San Salvador airport. In El Salvador, it was a hot and humid day and everyone was tired after traveling for more than eight hours. What a contrast between the two environments.

The following morning, our group headed out to review the first of 50 or 60 possible projects we would see over the next 13 days. We visited two schools that had equally impressive needs, and decided to focus here.

Both desperately needed water storage capacity since there was no delivery of water by the normal method of underground pipes from a central source.

Of course, there was plenty of water during the rainy season, which extends from May and June until the dry season that begins in November. The buildings had cisterns holding several hundred gallons of rain runoff. In the dry season, the tanks could be filled with trucked-in water when the schools could afford the cost.

The second need the schools had was security. Gangs of young men marauded through the school grounds picking on students and, in some cases, actually taking a student from school and enlisting them in the gang. This was not conducive to the learning experience, to say the least.

The third need, not as universal as those of water and security but more attainable for us financially, was textbooks and instructional material for teachers. The superintendent defined the specific need (i.e. titles of various texts), what subjects they would cover, the suppliers and budget amounts. After much deliberation with the superintendent, we decided to settle on textbooks and teacher material as the one item we should focus on.

The Rotary Club of Lake Placid in concert with the Rotary Club of Noreste San Salvador and the Rotary Foundation raised what was needed for the textbooks and teaching material in San Salvador. The textbooks were distributed among the children in the nine grades at the beginning of the school year this past January.

I was honored to be a part of this project and to have the opportunity to travel to Central America and see Rotary's good works in that part of the world.

Rotary joins leaders from all continents, cultures, and occupations to provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, promote cultural exchange, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. There are over 1.2 million members in over more than 160 countries, and over 30,000 Rotary Clubs worldwide.

The Lake Placid Rotary Club meets for breakfast on Thursdays from 7:20 to 8:30 a.m. at the Courtyard By Marriott, 5920 Cascade Road, Lake Placid. All are welcome. Visit online at



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