George Lewis, founder of the Guatemala Water Project, recently paid a visit to the Del Mar Rotary Club to discuss his project of providing water filters to poverty-stricken Guatemalans.
The matching grant program, founded two years ago, provides $50 filters that supply enough clean drinking water for a Guatemalan family of eight for two years. The program is now expanding into Belize and will possibly expand to Mexico.
"A lot of clubs and Rotarians feel that they're only connected to the community," Lewis said at Del Mar Rotary Club's Jan 29. meeting, "and I don't like that because Rotary is Rotary International. And we have an obligation to help all the people in the world, the less fortunate people."
Lewis was first inspired to help people in Guatemala, many of whom live in extreme poverty, after he joined a woman to help provide stoves to Guatemalans so they would not be choked by smoke or burned by the fires in their huts while cooking.
"One day I was putting a stove together, I looked up and there was this little girl, probably about 11 years old. And she was looking at me. She had this big smile on her face. You know, we couldn't communicate verbally, but I know what she was saying. She was saying Rotary, thank you for saving my life. Thank you for saving the life of my mom and my pop and my brothers and my sisters and all the people in the village," Lewis said.
Soon Lewis met with a representative from the Guatemalan Rotary club, and Lewis asked what he could do for the country. With no hesitation, the representative said he could help with the issue of polluted drinking water.
Today, the project has spread to Rotary clubs all around the United States, even to clubs in Canada and the Netherlands. The Guatemala Water Project has raised more than $750,000, and provided more than 120,000 Guatemalans with filters.
"I'm hoping that the international committee in our club, headed up by Rob Morse, that they will come on board now with a matching grant … there'll be a lot of energy and enthusiasm and interest in the club now about getting behind George's project," Rob Mullally, president of Del Mar Rotary Club, said.
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