Posted by Wes Bradford on Apr 24, 2018
Wes Bradford showed photos from the 2018 District 5280 Humanitarian Trip to Columbia. They visited projects in Bucaramanga (March 21-26) and in the capital, Bogotá, March 26-30, hosted by Colombian Rotarians. The projects were widely dispersed, especially those with Global grants, so they visited those with short driving distance while other projects were presented to them in the city by the local Rotarians. Bucaramanga is in the northeastern part of the country. The Rotarian projects there included water purification, sanitation, organic farming, painting and upgrading schools, providing school supplies and backpacks, providing soccer balls and athletic shoes, and oral hygiene self-care instruction.
450 backpacks, most of them funded by our Rotaractors, were provided to children in several schools. The children presented singing and dancing performances for the visiting and local Rotarians. The visitors enjoyed interacting with these children and with the local Rotarians who are very active in leading these projects. Safe water and sanitation are vitally important for reducing preventable infectious diseases in impoverished populations.
The Rotarians visited a settlement of refugees from the Pacific coast drug wars area. These people often fled the violence on foot through the mountains, with their families and what little possessions they could carry on their backs. Thousands of them arrived with no food, jobs, housing or school facilities. Many of the coastal farm areas have been devastated by aerial spraying of coca fields with pesticide poisons, which persist on the land for years and increase the rate of cancer and birth defects. Starting over in a clean environment with organic farming practices is important for minimizing future health effects in these people.
The Bogotá projects included water and sanitation, malaria diagnosis and prevention, technology and vocational training, Operation Smile (cleft lip and palate repair), and providing bicycles to students to encourage school attendance. Visiting these humanitarian projects provided many inspiring Rotarian experiences and interesting cultural interactions.