By Adelita Hernandez, Rotary Programs staff
As part of my job here at Rotary, I connect online with Rotarians from all over the world but nothing replaces face to face interaction. I recently had the opportunity to attend the 10th Annual Ecuador Project Fair in Quito, Ecuador. The three day event gave 22 local clubs a chance to present more than 80 service projects to 35 international Rotarian visitors.
Project Fairs are great opportunities for local clubs to showcase their work to prospective international partners and an equally fantastic way for visitors to learn more about the host country’s culture while finding a project to support. I met many Rotarians who are no strangers to Ecuador, returning year after year to visit the projects they have previously supported while learning about new initiatives.
After a 12 hour journey from Chicago, I finally arrived in Quito looking forward to seven days packed with project presentations, meetings, and project site visits. During the fair, I presented on several Rotary tools—Rotary Ideas, Groups, and Showcase—that help Rotarians promote and seek support for their projects. I was amazed by the variety of project exhibits ranging from providing heart valves to children in rural Quito, to water filtration systems in Tulcan, to supporting self-sustaining communities in Villaflora. It was inspiring to talk to the project coordinators and learn about the impact their projects were making in the lives of so many.
After the fair, I visited several of the exhibiting projects: an early education center in Machachi, a community health center in Quito, a center for families of cancer patients in Cuenca, and a homeless shelter in Cuenca. The smiles of hundreds who benefit from these efforts illuminated the Rotary clubs’ passionate dedication to improving their communities. Many of these projects are now listed on Rotary Ideas in hopes of finding more international partners.
If clubs in your district are looking for international project partners, contact your district leadership about hosting a local project fair.