Local Rotarians Bring Aid To Haiti

Posted on January 3, 2017 by  
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Los Altos RotariansAfter the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, most of the local infrastructure was destroyed, leaving the capital city Port-au-Prince and surrounding communities in rubble and more than 150,000 dead. Humanitarian volunteers poured in with aid, including two Rotary Club of Los Altos members, Allan Varni and Bud Oliver.

Varni and Oliver’s goal was to form connections with local Rotarians and nongovernmental organizations to raise funds to rebuild a school that had been completely destroyed. The quake hit in the late afternoon, so the school’s students were not in class.

The school originally was built under the auspices of a Haitian grassroots organization, Society of Providence United for Economic Development (SOPUDEP), founded to provide education for children and adults, support children’s and women’s rights and create economic opportunities for the community.

Many American high schools sent volunteer students during winter and spring breaks to help rebuild the school, including Los Altos High School, led by teacher Seth Donnelly. International architects designed the new school to withstand earthquakes.

Varni and Oliver represented the Los Altos Rotary Endowment Fund’s World Community Service Fund, which provided building materials, desks, books, school supplies and software, along with e-readers from a local partner, the Los Altos-based Books for Haiti. Google Inc., Apple Inc. and other companies matched contributions and donated supplies.

With help from many sources, the SOPUDEP School is now up and running, filled with hundreds of students who look forward to a better future.  Varni described the Haitians as being in “good spirits,” with a strong commitment to continue the work of rebuilding.

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Rotary Club Helps With Nepal Relief

Posted on May 22, 2015 by  
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Rotary Relief - NepalThe Rotary Club of Los Altos’ World Community Service Committee has launched a fundraising campaign to help with relief efforts in Nepal in the aftermath of the 7.8 earthquake that hit the nation April 25.

Funds raised will support the Sunrise Rotary Club in Kathmandu and the nongovernmental organizations Save the Children and ShelterBox.

To kick off its efforts, the Rotary Club of Los Altos is transferring $5,000 in cash from its World Community Service fund to the Kathmandu Sunrise Rotary Club for emergency food, shelter and water.

Los Altos Rotarians have focused on Nepal as a service project area since 2002, participating in 18 projects. The projects addressed rural village economic development, clean water and sanitation using sustainable technologies such as solar cooking and lighting, solar drying of fruit and mushrooms for sale and the use of stoves that burn little wood. Examples of the projects were on display at the Fine Art in the Park show at Lincoln Park May 16 and 17.

“These Kathmandu Sunrise Rotarians have proven themselves as motivated, reliable responsible and – importantly in the Third World – honest partners,” said Los Altos Rotarian Allart Ligtenberg. “We have total trust and confidence in them and their commitment to do the right thing.”

A retired engineer, Ligtenberg spent each fall in Nepal independently setting up and overseeing projects before joining Rotary in 2002. He has volunteered in Nepal since 1992 to improve the lives of poor villagers through solar and sustainable technologies.

Kathmandu Sunrise Rotarians have begun surveying the damage in rural villages, designing pit latrines and delivering safe water, food and tents. They plan to expand their survey to more remote villages as conditions allow.

Save the Children, which focuses on children’s health and welfare, has partnered with the United Nations and the World Health Organization on many of its projects and operates clinics throughout the Third World. Save the Children sponsored numerous clinics in Nepal prior to last month’s earthquake and is importing additional staff and supplies to expand its efforts.

ShelterBox has staff members on the ground in Nepal and will fly in more to organize the receipt of ShelterBox kits, which contain tents to house displaced families.

For more information, visit losaltosrotary.org.

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