By David Griggs, member of the Rotary E-Club of Lake Atitlán-Panajachel, Guatemala
The Rotary clubs in Central America are divided into two groups: District 4240 with the countries of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, and District 4250 with Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras.
Each year, the two districts participate in a joint Project Fair, commonly known as the Uniendo America Project Fair, hosted in one of the seven countries. Clubs from the two co-hosting districts showcase booths displaying their service projects and opportunities for others to support their initiatives. Often times, other nongovernmental organizations with programs in these districts also exhibit partnership opportunities.
International clubs interested in international service activities are invited to attend the fair, learn about local priorities, discuss project partnership opportunities, and build life-long friendships. While project fairs unite programs that need support with donors who are able to fund them, the friendship extend well after projects are implemented.
This year, the Uniendo America Project Fair was held in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, at the end of January. About 100 individuals from Canada, the United States, and the seven host countries participated in the event. In addition to booth exhibits, training workshops and presentations were interwoven into the agenda. Janna Glucksman, Regional Grants Manager for The Rotary Foundation, gave a valuable talk on Rotary’s global grants, stressing that grants must be sustainable and measurable. Janna explained “sustainable” to mean long-term solutions which continue to mitigate local challenges long after TRF and Rotarian funds have been used. Janna reviewed the various steps in the global grant process emphasizing the importance of starting a project by working with the local community to identify assets and needs, and align approaches with local values and cultures to encourage local ownership of the project.
Round table discussions around each of Rotary’s areas of focus promoted engaging conversation.
There were other events of a more light-hearted nature. On Thursday night we all had a delicious dinner together at the Hotel Honduras Maya and were entertained by a delightful troupe of native dancers. Friday night was open and I took advantage of the opportunity to see the movie “Guerra de las Galaxias” (“Star Wars”) on the big screen in English with Spanish subtitles. On Saturday afternoon, a large group of us went on a bus tour to Valle de Angeles. We had lunch at Restaurante La Florida and then had some free time to wander through the interesting village and shop.