Clubs and Organizations

Clubs and Organizations Foreign assistance topic of Rotary The Vermillion Rotary Club held its weekly luncheon meeting on Tuesday, May 27, at the Neuharth Center on the campus of USD. Vice-president Mary Edelen opened the meeting. Rotarian Sue Tuve gave the invocation. This was followed by a round of singing, announcements and the introduction of guests. Vice-president Mary Edelen introduced Professor X. T. Wang, who showed a short video presentation on the Village Star Program, which the Vermillion Rotary Club has assisted in the past. The Village Star program was started to help students, teachers and grade schools in one of the poorest regions of rural China. The assistance the club provided allowed for the purchase of new chairs and desks as well as pencils and notebooks for a grade school in the region. Professor Wang expressed thanks for the generosity of the club. Following the presentation, Rotarian Roger Kozak presented Professor Wang with another check for $1,000 to be used for further assistance to the students and teachers in the region. Rotarian Barry Vickrey then introduced Anders Fremstad and his wife Janessa Landeck who presented a program concerning a self-help group called UPAVIM (United for a Better Life). This group was started by a group of women in a squatter village on the outskirts of Guatemala City to better the lives of their children and themselves. Guatemala had suffered greatly from a 42-year civil war, which drove a large part of the rural population into the city for protection and a chance to improve their lives. This unofficial city is called ��?La Experanza��? (Hope) by its citizens. They are unrecognized by the government and have no schools, no electricity, no water, no health care and very little opportunity for jobs. The women took matters into their own hands and organized UPAVIM. They started a health program and feeding system for their children. Their next project was to help improve the lives of their children and their own lives by starting a craft system to earn some money for further improvements. They used this money to provide health and education programs for their community. The organization is unique in that it is self-governed by the women themselves. They also started a day care program so the women were able to work and support themselves, their families, and the community. They currently provide support for 500 students in their school. They have also started a soy-protein substitution program to supplement other nutrition programs. Their next project is to build a library for the community. Books are very rarely available. It is still a very poor and violent community. They believe that education is one of the keys to changing the future. Currently only 65 percent of the children complete the 5th grade. They also are intent on establishing a tutoring program to ensure each child will get an education. Anders and Janessa stated that the women of UPAVIM believe that the cycle of poverty can and will be changed in the future through education.

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