Christmas party, December 21

A holiday celebration was held at the Cacique Inn, with about 18-20 members and friends attending.  Pictured are: members Mohamed Gohar and Mayra Lisbeth Tobías, with guest, Norma Bajan Balan, Country Director for the organization Starfish.

2018 Belize Project Fair, reported by David Griggs

Dr. Will Boegel, David Griggs, and Carolyn Johnson, a Rotarian from Maine, attended the Belize Project Fair, January 26 and 27.  Belize did a wonderful job of hosting Uniendo América, the 2018 Rotary Central American Project Fair at the Best Western Hotel in Belize City. On Friday evening, they treated attendees to dinner, drinks, and entertainment at Old Belize on the waterfront.  One helpful feature was the placement of the display tables around the perimeter of the room, with tables and chairs in the middle for people to chat or have serious conversations about projects.

A highlight of the program was a series of informative talks.  Azka Asif, a Program Communications Specialist in the Rotary International Service and Engagement field, gave a presentation entitled “Engagement Opportunities to Enhance your Projects.”  She talked extensively about the community assessments which now are mandatory to include in international grant applications, as well as resources which are available for those clubs who are putting together grant applications.

Carolyn Johnson, representing the Rotary Foundation Cadre of Technical Advisors, spoke about the wealth of assistance that Cadre members can provide to clubs in planning, monitoring, and evaluating grant applications. Other talks included valuable information on the Rotary Foundation, the WASH in Schools Target Challenge, and Rotary Action Groups.

 A.J. Garis of Bend, OR, met with with e-club’s president, Dr. Will Boegel.  AJ’s Rotary District in Bend, Oregon, sent him down to investigate international service opportunities in Central America. 

The Rotary Club of Punta Gorda, Belize, provided impressive presentations on a number of programs: a four-school waste water treatment/drainage/fencing project; a medical waste incinerator; a photovoltaic system for a school; a project for women’s shelter, education, and outreach; a WASH proposal for sustainable water, sanitation, hygiene, and education in two villages; and a proposal for a solar water pump for a village. 

Luis Godey represented his very active Rotaract group from San Ignacio, Belize. The Yalbac School Project seeks to pay the cost of tuition and school supplies for students who could otherwise not afford to attend school. The Rotaract School Refurbishment Project aims to conduct repairs and provide necessary equipment to schools. The Maternity Care Project would like to provide new mothers with maternity baskets containing prenatal vitamins, diapers, bottles, and informational packages. 

Rotary representation at community information and engagement room for Mardi Gras celebration at Panajachel Colegio Internacional

David Griggs, Vivian Harvey, and John Van Lante presented information about local efforts in remediation of Lake Atitlan, including the tul reforestation project.  

The immediate goal is seeking more volunteers for the twice-monthly tul program, with the long-term goal being to involve the Panajachel community in the efforts to save the lake.

With the arrival of warmer weather around Lake Atitlan, the harvesting and replanting of the tul has resumed, reports John Van Lente, vice president of the Rotary E Club of Lake Atitlan. This continues the Tul Reforestation Program, entitled “Natural Interventions to Revitalize the Biodiversity of Lake Atitlan Guatemala.”

TulTul is a local plant which is especially important for the health of the lake. The cyanobacteria blooms of recent years are mainly caused by excess input of nutrients, and the presence of tul (Tule, Schoenoplectus or Scirpus) provides a natural and rapid uptake of nutrients, including nitrogen and phosphorus, while creating the surface area that attracts microorganisms in the water that create a cleaning biofilm.

The amount of tul, formerly abundant around the shore of the lake, has been severely diminished due to the sudden changes in the water level over the past few years, as well as from the lack of education among the population around the lake on its importance and responsible harvesting. The immediate need for remediation and replanting of tul around the lake is critical to the health of Lake Atitlan.

TulThanks to the leadership of AMSCLAE (the local Atitlan Basin Group), the following organizations are supporting the tul restoration project: CONAP (El Consejo Nacional de Áreas Protegidas, Amigos del Lago, and the Rotary E Club of Lake Atitlan.

Volunteers, both local residents and visitors, are invited to join this important program on the first Thursday or the third Wednesday of each month.

On Thursday, August 3, the Rotary e-Club of Lake Atitlan hosted hosted DG Julio Grazioso (Guatemala) and Assistant DG Luis Barcarcel (Xela). Juan Carlos Chevez hosted a very nice luncheon, and Emilio Crespo supplied many dishes from Hotel Cacique.

We had an excellent meeting with great team presence. David Griggs, Bruce Clemens, and Vivian Harvey were present online. More than 10 RECLA members participated, and many prospective members also were present, for a total of 22 present.

After a junta directiva review of overall goals from 11-12:15, DG Julio gave a rotary presentation from 12:15-1:15 in excellent English, practicing for presentations in Belize. He will forward his powerpoint presentation, and Dr Will Bogel will distribute it as requested. This was a great team effort, and Dr. Will believes we will have a very positive relationship with the DG and partner in both country and district projects.

Dr. Will expresses gratitude to all Rotary e-Club of Lake Atitlan members for a very successful 2016-17, as we look forward to an excellent new Rotary year and synergy from our team.

Students from AMA work to improve Lake Atitlan

At the last meeting in March, 9 fifth/sixth grade students from the Atitlan Multicultural Academy (AMA) in Panajachel, along with their teacher, were recognized for their efforts to improve the condition of Lake Atitlan by planting tul along the shore of the lake. By helping to reforest the tul along Lake Atitlán, students work to promote the lake’s ability to cope with environmental contaminants while improving local economies through the handicrafts made by local tuleros.

The students spoke about their concerns about Lake Atitlan and were awarded a “Save the Lake” Certificate. During this project they also developed a slide presentation about ways those who live around the lake can join in efforts to help save the lake.

Their teacher, Joe Dvorak, is from Tully, NY, was a Rotary Youth Ambassador to Spain as a high school senior, representing Rotary District 7150.

Mama Hope and El Arbol de Niño

Three representatives from Mama Hope, an international global development program, Katie Carey from Boston, Katrina Boratko from San Francisco, and Ingrid Villaseñor from Panajachel, presented their plans for a partnership to develop for an eco-school in Panajachel,El Arbol del Niño.

Building will take place over the next three years, and when completed, in addition to a holistic educational center for 100 students, El Arbol del Niño will develop an ecofarm employing local families and an ecotourism program with birdwatching and hiking opportunities.

Rotary Meeting in Guatemala City, April 1

On April 1, William Boegel, President and Mayra Tobias, Secretary, represented our club at the meeting for Presidents and Secretary Training (PETS), an annual program for updating the leadership functions of Rotary clubs. In attendance were the governor-elect, current past governors, assistant governors, district instructors, and a large group of Rotarians in leadership positions throughout the country, providing an enriching sharing experience for all.

The presence of our local officers at this type of activities generates contacts with other national clubs and allows us to present information about our achievements toward the fulfillment of our goals, in addition to fulfilling our club obligations and responsibilities.

Learning more about procedures with Rotary International helps our club members learn more about the benefits of Rotary membership, while at the same time building strong friendship ties with other local Rotary groups.

Seventh annual surgical mission completed

Report from Dr. Will Boegel, Lake Atitlan Rotery e-Club president:

Opal House and Fidalgo Island Rotary pediatric orthopedic surgical week from March 4th till March 11th.

A team of five foot and ankle surgeons, two pediatric orthopedic surgeons, and 3 anesthesiologists performed 34 major bone surgeries on poor children and a few adults
with serious orthopedic deformities, many of them congenital. This “no charge” surgical service reaches poor families all across Guatemala who have no resources for private surgery.
The cooperative Rotary effort took place in the San Lucas Toliman parroquia hospital which recently received two excellent x-ray machines, paid for by a Global Grant.

Many thanks to all who serve the truly poor of Guatemala.

Mardi Gras information session

The Rotary e-Club of Lake Atitlan sponsored an information room at the annual Mardi Gras celebration at the Panajachel Colegio International for local community programs, including several bilingual schools, the Audubon Society, and health programs. Several members of the Lake Atitlan Rotary spoke with visitors about the value of membership in our local group.

Panakids at Rotary

In early March, the Rotary e-Club of Lake Atitlan recognized the teachers and students of Panakids, a local bilingual elementary school, which been named a “Save the Lake” school for the students’ efforts on promoting information on water conservation and phosphorus-free soaps. Teachers explained the mission of the school, and each of the children described how they are influencing their families and friends.