Among the 140 Rotarians who went to Columbia on our District 5280 Rotary International Annual Humanitarian Trip this past March was LA5 member Margaret Karen. As she explained in a recent interview, the trip was both inspiring and lots of fun.
The group arrived in Bucaramanga on March 21st and she wasted no time getting into the trip by paragliding over the city, quite the experience for those adventurous enough to try it.
The service projects started the next day. The group went to a rural school way up in the mountains, and was greeted by a wonderful performance of children singing and dancing for them. Rotarians handed out backpacks and toured the water project.
The District purchased water systems for several schools in the area to provide the students with clean water. The students were engaged and excited to talk to us.
That afternoon was a visit to the displaced person's camp, an area of very poor individuals who live in homes made of wood, tarps, and other materials they can salvage. The District purchased air conditioners, dental chairs and other items for a community facility. Again the children entertained us and then we painted with them.
At the camp the group visited a family, including an autistic daughter, who was relocated to a new home funded and built through Rotary. It was made of concrete blocks, with running water and power. The family was so excited with this life-changing event, and their daughter was skipping and holding peoples’ hands. The Rotarians were so moved they cried joyfully for the family and their home. That night funds were raised for 13 more homes ($5,000 each). This is the power of Rotary!
The next day we engaged in additional projects including school water, tree planting and handed out more backpacks.
Rotary group dinners were held at fun locations and members truly bonded as a district.
Some went on to Bogota for additional projects including the touching Operation Smile, school projects, doll hand outs and tree planting. Bogota had many great activities including an amazing dinner at the Salt Cathedral. District Governor Colette insured that dancing was involved so Salsa lessons were provided and dance competitions held for all those willing to join.
Rotary Columbia Trip by the Numbers
- 140 Rotarians Participated
- 43 Rotary Clubs represented including Columbia Districts 4271 & 4281
- 8 TRF Global Grants were implemented
- $966,708 in Goods and Services handed out