Posted by Wendy Adams, Ottawa-Stittsville
A hands-on Chapala Rotary project provides emergency food relief to 100’s of Mexican families in need during Covid-19 time.
Zoom provided a great opportunity on Wed Sep 10th, 2020, for Stittsville Rotarians to hear first-hand about an international humanitarian project from guest speaker Barb Wilson, President-Elect, Lake Chapala Sunrise Rotary Club and Chair of Emergency Food Relief Program. The club has 38 members of varying nationalities and there are 133 clubs in that district in Mexico.
After a pandemic was declared in March 2020, it became obvious to the members of Chapala Sunrise Rotary Club that many people in Chapala and area were in a desperate, poverty-stricken situation, reduced to begging for food and a hands-on project was needed to bring immediate relief.
The members created a small non-sustainable emergency relief program with $9,000 donated by other Rotary clubs (including Stittsville Rotary), Rotarians and other individuals.The goal was to collect basic non-perishable food items for families of 5 including beans, rice, oatmeal, dried milk powder, etc. and place in a plastic bag for delivery to needy families – each bag called a “despensas”. More difficult was recruiting volunteers, establishing delivery methods and banking procedures, finding storage facilities and identifying the families who would benefit.
The program started small by providing 48 despensas on April 20, 2020 and expanded to as much as 380 despensas that fed 1,900 individuals weekly, as more funds were received from generous donors and volunteers were recruited. The program will wrap up on September 30, 2020 having utilized 1,500 hours of volunteer time and having engaged 75% of the club members in direct involvement or donation. The situation for the families has stabilized somewhat as more people are getting back to work. Barbara listed the successes of the program: a massive difference to the 100’s of families who participated, new partnerships, increased good will and better friendships for the club within the community, and new relationships with Rotary clubs in Canada and USA. (