Posted by B.J. Anderson

Chas Wilson, RC of Simi Sunrise, recently traveled to Colombia along with a group of Rotarians from District 5240.  The purpose of the trip was threefold:  

  1. Attend a Rotary Project Fair in Armenia, Colombia. The fair was attended by Rotarians from Colombia, Canada, and the U.S.
  2. Check out progress of an ongoing $91k peace literacy grant in Bogota and meet with the local cooperating partners and the host partner, the RC of Bogota Centenario
  3. Carry out three service projects in Medellin

The project fair featured 64 project proposals from Districts 4271 and 4281 and addressed each of Rotary's six Areas of Focus.  These proposals will be assessed over the coming months.

The peace literacy grant partners are: MENCOLDES (a Colombian Mennonite community) and Mediators Beyond Borders (based in Montreal, Canada). The MBB team will train and assist the local partners to hold a series of 15 workshops for women to promote human rights and provide conflict resolution tools. These women have been displaced by armed conflict and experienced nothing but war for most of their lifetime.  They will learn how to live in a conflict-free environment.  Another series of 15 workshops will target youngsters with the same goals in mind.

The group was led by Conejo Valley Rotarian Diego Velasquez and included Rotarians Elisa Ballestas (RC Conejo Valley), Cindy Belmonte, Joe Grossman and Marin Kakacher (RC of Simi Sunset) and Frank Tripicchio.

The service projects in Medellin, organized and supported financially by the Rotary Club of Newbury Park included:

  1. A visit to a Catholic senior citizen group home to donate money for food.
  2. A visit to an orphanage that housed 80+ kids ages three to eighteen to donate much needed money.
  3. A project at a large school where the Rotarians provided wooden toys to the kindergarten kids and backpacks for the older kids.

The Rotarian hosts were gracious.  The food was delicious and plentiful.  Diego was a terrific team leader.  Don't miss out on future opportunities to travel around the world and to observe firsthand the work that Rotary does in our world.