In 2006, ten members of the Rappahannock (RRC) and Stafford (SRC) Rotary Clubs departed for El Progreso, Honduras.  With about $5000 in hand donated by our two clubs and the Fredericksburg (FRC) club, we rehabilitated 22 lean-to homes in Siete de Abril, and we financed the building of a two stall bathroom next to the school there.

 In addition, we visited Escueala Esperanza (School of Hope) located in a church annex, donating out of our pockets enough money for them to operate for a month.  This school provided minimal education and physical rehab for mentally and physically challenged children who had no other place to go.  We also toured several other locations which were assisted by Students Helping Honduras.

While in El Progreso, we were able to meet with the president of the El Progreso Rotary Club (EPRC), who with one day’s notice changed their meeting date to accommodate our visit.  Since then, we have sent at least five more teams comprised of members from all three clubs.  

Building good will and better friendships with our Central American neighbors has exceeded all of our expectations.  We have partnered with them in constructing a facility for Esperanza, we have contributed to the building of new two-room cinderblock homes in Balsamo Village, we have supplied the computers needed to provide a virtual library for the city of El Progreso, we have donated computers for La Foundacion, a school for the children of unwed mothers, and have shipped water filters to provide safe drinking water for 175 families.   Our financial donations to the El Progreso community have exceeded $20,000, half of which came through grants awarded by Rotary District 7610 and Rotary International.

But the story doesn’t end there.  In 2008, four members of EPRC came to our area for a visit and in December, 2010 we again received a team from EPRC - that time attended by five EPRC Rotarians, the Mayor of El Progreso (who is an honorary Rotarian), and the Rotaract president from the University.  All three Fredericksburg area clubs provided host families. Then-Fredericksburg mayor Tom Tomzak received the El Progreso delegation formally at City Hall. 

In January 2011,  club member Sam Smart led another outbound team to El Progreso to conduct an eye clinic in four different locations.   Together in coordination with the EPRC,  RRC members stayed with EPRC members in their homes.

Honduras is the second poorest country in the North, South or Central America.  Rotarians and others like the members of EPRC are working on a daily basis to improve the lives of their people.  It continues to be a positive experience to work side by side with them in this effort.   

----- Written by club member and International Service Committee Chairwoman Vicki Lewis