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Santa Matilde

On a small parcel of land wedged between the city sewer ponds and the city dump was a squatter’s settlement known as El Limonal.  These were mostly people who were displaced when they lost everything during hurricane Mitch in 1998.

Not only were they existing by scavenging through the city dump but they lived in hovels made of trash, card board, plastic garbage bags or whatever else they could find.  Each time it rained the raw sewage from the city septic tanks would overflow and run through the dirt floor of their huts where they slept. The area was completely contaminated and disease was rampant. On the other side was the dump with rotting garbage, constant smoke from burning, and swarms of disease-transmitting flies.

The Rotary made an offer to these people.  “If Rotarians provide the funds, trains you to build homes and oversees the construction with supervisors, would you be willing to build your own homes?”  325 families stepped forward and said “yes.” A local farmer donated some land in a peanut field about 5 kilometers away. An elementary and high school was built, with a kitchen for the hot lunch program.

They each received a plot of land with a four room house that they built.  They were provided with:

  1. Food and education for children
  2. A masonry home
  3. Clean water
  4. Sanitary latrines
  5. A micro farm on their land

With this incentive they were able to begin feeding their family and become completely self-sufficient in less than three years.  This was the first village called “Santa Matilde.” (Completed in 2001)


Aldea Rotaria (Rotary Village)

In a remote area deep in the woods, we discovered a scattered group of squatters who were living in huts made of palm leaves and plastic bags. Men were fortunate if they could find work for one or two days each week on nearby farms and they were literally starving. Again, 38 families agreed to build their own homes with help from Rotarians. A small elementary school was built (with a kitchen), 38 homes and a small building to be used as a community center. Again they were provided with:

  1. Food and education for children
  2. A masonry home
  3. Clean water
  4. Sanitary latrines
  5. Some land and micro-loans for farmers to rent small parcels and grow crops for food and cash

Again, they became self-sufficient in less than three years and the school has grown so much from others in the surrounding area that we are now planning to double its size and add a high school.


El Menco

This time we went to the southwestern region of Nicaragua about 60 miles from Costa Rica on the shore of Lake Nicaragua.  This is the largest fresh water lake in Central America.  It is approximately 100 miles long by 50 miles wide.

Fishing was the primary source of living for these people who subsisted on about one dollar and fifty cents per day per family. The men built leaky boats from scrap lumber and had to row out for about two hours to reach suitable fishing areas.  In these two-man boats (one to row and one to bail-out water) they could only fish for about an hour before having to return before the fish would spoil.

Due to storms in this large lake, many of them never returned. Women would stand in the water to wash clothes for little money.  Most of them suffered from infections caused by standing waist deep in the water for hours. Again we provided the necessary elements required to alleviate extreme poverty with 160 homes.

  1. Food and education for children
  2. A masonry home
  3. Clean water
  4. Sanitary latrines
  5. Economic development

This time we provided micro loans to help the families rent parcels of land to grow watermelons and corn. This has been successful and continues to improve. As in all our projects the hot lunches and Christmas boxes are key to our education efforts.

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  • field for houses
  • housing land
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  • houses 2
  • houses 4
  • Father Marco Inspecting
  • Chicken Coop Complete
  • Laying out coop
  • Village Elder Instructs on Farming
  • Planting Garden
  • Planting Garden 3
  • Planting Corn
  • Planting Corn 2
  • Seed Distribution
  • Planting Garden 6
  • Microfarming after 6 Months
  • Second Crop a Graden
  • House in Nicaragua
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