By Carolina Barrios, Member of the Rotary Club of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
In 2010, severe flooding affected a huge part of the Colombian territory and the Caribbean region surrounding Cartagena. Streets had turned into rivers and canoes became the only possible form of transportation. During this time, the Rotary Club Cartagena de Indias connected with the community of Leticia to assist them through emergency relief efforts.
After these efforts, the club remained active in Leticia to develop a revitalization plan with community leaders. Our objective was to understand their challenges and needs, and propose possible solutions while giving the community hope that we were there to stay and assist. As passionate Rotarians aiming to make a difference, our actions were oriented to improve the community through projects like: decorating the church, building a new park, organizing health brigades, standing up for the public school (it was in danger of being downsized through teacher cuts, etc.), vocational orientations, city planning and urbanism, distributing Christmas gifts and even a Global Grant project to provide basic sanitation!
In 2013, the year I joined the Rotary Club of Cartagena de Indias, we organized the community of Leticia into a Rotary Community Corps (RCC). The group was key for determining community needs that we were able to translate into a Global Grant with the support of several Los Angeles area rotary clubs. The grant, successfully implemented earlier this calendar year, provided basic sanitation to twenty five families as direct beneficiaries, and training to the whole community in water management and waste disposal through hands-on workshops. Since Leticia is a 45-minute boat ride away, members of our club could not always be physically present and forming this RCC helped us have eyes and ears in the community every day!
The Leticia RCC is composed of ten amazing women leaders who take their role very seriously and are always proposing ideas to improve their community. They play a central role in the success of all the implemented projects and our club supports their new ideas for meeting community needs. Recently, together we carried out productive projects such as a traditional food (sweet) festival, hosting a flea market, and a community bingo night in order to finance projects for their village. We have certainly developed a close relationship with the Leticia community through this Rotary Community Corps. Word has spread and now a nearby village has asked for their own RCC. We are in the process of chartering this new RCC and know it will be just as successful!
If you are looking for a way to make a difference, a Rotary Community Corps is a great way to make an impact. Learn more and get involved today!