Posted by Narayan Murarka on Oct 01, 2017
The following is a transcript of a presentation given at Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club meeting on September 28, 2017
 
I would like to speak about our experiences and lessons learned in implementing humanitarian and educational projects in Guatemala.  These projects have produced results with positive outcomes and made impact on the lives of children, women and men in the community. 
 
So, what does it take to implement them. I will use five different words each starting with a letter “P” to explain.
 
First, some background:
 
The Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club, District 6440, in partnership with Club Rotario Guatemala Sur, District 4250, has been engaged in global grant projects in Guatemala since 2012-13.  We concentrated on the needs of people in one geographical area called “Sumpango,” Sacatepecaquez Department, all throughout these years and carried out several major initiatives which expanded over time in both breadth and depth. 
 
One of these initiatives is related to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in schools and focused on disease prevention and treatment of children and improving hygiene conditions within the community. Here is the link for a detailed description of the project.
http://www.rotary6440.org/Stories/water-sanitation-and-hygiene-(wash)-in-guatemalan-schools
 
Another initiative is related to combatting malnutrition among children and establishing microenterprise for women.  This is achieved by providing protein rich soy milk, produced a machine called mechanical cow, to the children.  Here is the link for a detailed description of the project.
 
Now, the five “Ps”
 
PASSION is the building block and starting point for any of these projects.  Rotarians with passion initiate such projects.  Rotary has a variety of project portfolios to choose from depending on one’s interest.  For me, I wish more Rotarians were engaged in global grants.  For example, we have 35,000 clubs worldwide.  Using the generic 80/20 rule, if 20% of clubs were to initiate global grants, we would have 7000 projects at any given time.  Imagine the good these many projects could do.  However, only about 1000 such projects are carried out annually at present.  There is room for more.
 
 
 
The next word is PATIENCE.  We expect instant gratification.  Life does not work that way in the developing world.  Instead of being frustrated and upset at the rate of progress, we need to manage patience with PERSISTENCE, our third word.  Take the example of our project in Sumpango.   When the Sumpango municipality staff and/or the community people are given the task to do something by a certain date and it does not get done for various reasons, not necessarily due to their fault, what do we do? Rotarian Francisco Viau, (Franky), a member of Guatemala Sur Club and our project manager, has been managing this situation day in and day out with his persistence in getting things done.  He does it in a calm and friendly manner which produces positive results.  Franky has been doing a great job.
 
The next word is PERSEVERANCE.  We can’t give up.  We are People of Action as the current Rotary campaign says.  Take the example about our first global grant for the first mechanical cow.  At that time, the Rotary Foundation launched a so-called “Future Vision” initiative.  As per the rules we were denied the privilege of sponsoring projects in Guatemala.  It was unacceptable to us.  Well, we went to work and found a way within the rules to make it happen.  The lesson learned from this story is to think of various ways to solve the problem. Yes, think of solutions!
 
I firmly believe that there is always a way.  
 
Financial PARTNERSHIP is our next topic.  We believe in bigger, better and bolder projects.  For example, instead of working on a water & sanitation project for 1 or 2 schools, we venture to undertake it for 15-20 schools at a time.  This requires considerable funding.  We have pioneered the concept of partnership with clubs and districts.  We are grateful that so many clubs within and outside our district are collaborating with us.  Special thanks to members of our own club for support.
 
The second biggest partner is The Rotary Foundation – a well-kept secret.  The Rotary Foundation can finance 60% to 70% of the project budget due to its matching policies.  This has been a great boon for our projects.  I wish that The Rotary Foundation was a well understood entity within the Rotary world.  Unfortunately, it is not.  
 
The third leg of partnership is the host club.  I cannot say enough about our friends in Guatemala Sur club.  They are dedicated, committed and passionate Rotarians.  They make things happen and get the job done.  Thanks to RI Director Jorge Aufranc for his leadership and to members of the “Sumpango Team” for their hard work.
 
I have one more word: ALLIANCES.  It is relationship, collaboration and association with local governments and school authorities.  These relationships or lack thereof can either make or break any progress on projects. 
 
Finally, the commitment of the members of the local community is critical.  We want to learn about their needs, work out the possible solutions and engage them during their implementation.  We want them to take ownership of the project and make it their “THEIR” project not “OURS.” 
The Guatemala Sur Club has done a tremendous job in cultivating such local alliances.
 
Friends, it has been my privilege and pleasure being engaged in these projects under the Rotary umbrella.  I love what I am doing.  Yes, indeed I do.
Finally, we thank The Rotary Foundation for providing the vehicle to carry out such projects to do good in the world.  Bottom line, these projects transform lives and in the words of our RI President Ian, they “make a difference.”
 
Thank you.
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