BOUNTIFUL — The most effective service projects last long after the volunteers have gone home. Humanitarian groups throughout the city, state and world are focusing on bringing education to poor and underdeveloped people. Instead of just bringing food or building bathrooms, the Bountiful Rotary and other groups are teaching proper hygiene and other skills that will last for a lifetime. “Service should be less about giving things and more about empowering people to deal with their deficiencies,” said Rotary District Gov. Jerry Summerhays, who spoke recently to the Bountiful Rotary. A recent example of this is a recent Rotary service project in Ecuador, funding bathrooms for community schools that didn’t have any. When they were seeking funding for the project, they discovered research that said education was more important than the facilities themselves. “Getting people to wash their hands does more for health than bathrooms and clean water,” said Summerhays. “Academics have done studies. They’ve really gotten into third-world projects to help make them more sustainable.” Specifically, that education had to go directly to the mothers. Many women in rural Ecuadorian communities had lost children to illnesses that could have been prevented with better hygiene. When they were convinced, they affected the behavior of their families. “Mothers change lives, especially when they get together,” said Summerhays. The Rotary groups who organized the project have since built 29 bathrooms across less-developed areas of Ecuador, and are currently raising funds to build more. They’ve also started hygiene programs in all of the areas that received bathrooms.
For more information check out the Oct.4 edition of Davis Clipper.