Ladysmith Rotary Club Guatemala project

Ladysmith Rotary Club bound for Guatemala in the New Year

Ladysmith Rotary Club’s latest project will see the group head to the South American in the new year.

The group’s goal is to help enhance economic and educational opportunities for women in Guatemala, a country just south of Mexico.

“It’s a culture project with a women’s centre just outside Lake Atitlan in the San Lucas Toliman area of Guatemala,” said John Mulrooney from the Rotary Club. “We’ve applied for a small $5,000 rotary grant to help.”

Mulrooney and company will head to Guatemala on January 25 to February 15 and will work specifically with the Mayan people of the country and the area.

“They came up with the plan for what they wanted and we are just there to support. They have use of a couple of hectares of land just outside the community centre there and they want to grow vegetables and raise chickens and ducks. We need to get something going so that it continues into the future,” he said.

Mulrooney explained that the women’s centre was given use of the land by a local Catholic church in Guatemala providing “they use it wisely.”

He also said the local community centre there is smaller than any house in British Columbia.

“The Mayan people are generally pretty poor and they came through a terrible civil war in the 1980’s. It’s difficult for them. The general population down there works separately from them.”

The rotary club will arrive during Guatemala’s dry season and Mulrooney says a lot of time will be spent on flood preparation for later on in the year.

“They’ll have challenges as when it rains it rains. The water will be used economically during the dry spell and we’ll pour small portions on the plants. It’s going to be total manual labour for growing the vegetables. There’s no machinery.

“It’s dry season in February and Lake Atitlan is 5,000 feet above sea level. At night we’ll have jackets on as it’ll be cool but during the day it’ll be in the 20’s so dry, sunny, warm and beautiful.”

This trip will be far from Mulrooney’s first trip to Guatemala as he told he was there last year helping a similar group install stoves into houses.

He says the South American link comes from counterparts down Island at Victoria’s rotary club.

“They’ve been involved for about 20 years (with Guatemala). They [helped] women make scarves and cloths and these things were brought back to Canada to make income for the women that way,” said Mulrooney. “Then they spoke to different rotary clubs to see if we’d assist the locals down there. So we’ve been going down to particularly work with women.”