Meeting of 1/14/16: ‘Safe Passage: Guatemala’

Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 12.44.07 PMMeeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush, NY
January 14, 2016

Attending (13): Terry Brewer, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Debbie Rodriguez, Geoff Brewer, Bill Dowd, April Dowd, Dick Drumm, Jim Leyhane, Rommel Tolentino, Carol Orvis, Carole Spencer, Ray Hannan.

Guests (2): Rose Reed, Cathy DeMille.

PROGRAM: “Safe Passage: Guatemala”

Rose Reed
Our speaker Rose Reed.

Pat Bailey introduced speaker Rose Reed, a junior at Columbia High School who participated in a 10-day visit to Guatemala to work with children in the “Safe Passage” mentoring program. Our club helped underwrite the cost of her church group’s trip.

Rose began her presentation by reading her “Reflection” written for a special service at her church. She then showed slides from her trip as she explained the “Safe Passage” program. It offers schooling to children, as well as two meals a day, and English language lessons to better enable them to get jobs and perhaps break out of the cycle of poverty so prevalent in the country.

She shared her experiences visiting “the dump,” a sprawling area the size of several football fields where all sorts of refuse is dropped off  and adults and children alike “work” there — scavenging items to repair, sell, or use, the only way some of them make a living.

Rose explained that poverty, drugs, and violent crime are commonplace in Guatemala, so her group of 15 students and four adults stayed in a rented house in Antigua, about a 45-minute drive from the school where they worked with children.

On a happier note, she also spoke about her group helping with a quinceañera, a highly-serious yet festive rite of passage for girls in Latin America when they reach the age of 15. (“Quinceañera” also is the term for the girls themselves.)

Because it is traditional to have special dresses, music, and food, the group event can be beyond the financial means of most people. However, part of “Safe Passage” effort was to help provide dresses and help pay for the event for neatly 20 girls. One element of the ritual is for the girls to have a waltz with their father, older  brother, or some other important male in their life. Because some of the girls had no such male figure, several of the boys from Rose’s group were pressed into service to quickly learn a basic waltz so they could be partners with those girls.

The group also did some sightseeing, including visiting a volcano where they toasted marshmallows over hot rocks, and toured some of the countryside. Rose shared the following images with us. (Click to enlarge them.)

The Capital Region group.
The gang’s all here.
Street scenes in Lake Atitlan.
Street scenes and some soccer fun.
At the market in Chichicastenango.
At the open-air market in Chichicastenango.
More market scenes. The blue-shirted men are police officers.
More market scenes. The blue-shirted men are police officers.
"Escuelita" is "little school." Note the protective walls that separate it from the rest of the community.
“Escuelita” is “little school.” Note the protective green and blue walls that separate it from the rest of the community.
Working with the students.
Working with the students.
Visiting the Pacaya volcano.
Visiting the Pacaya volcano.
At the quinceanera.
At the quinceanera.


PURPOSE OF ROTARY — President Terry Brewer, who welcomed guests Rose Reed and her mother, Cathy DeMille, briefly explained the purpose and projects of Rotary which include such things as helping underwrite educational ventures such as Rose’s “Safe Passage” experience among many others.

DUES ARE DUE — A reminder was issued for those who pay dues on an every-six-months basis that the second portion for the 2015-16 Rotary Year is due now.

Golfer Robots BoxedSIMULATOR GOLF — Members were reminded to help share the flyers for our “Winter Indoor Golf Fest” simulator event, scheduled for Saturday, January 30. Everyone was e-mailed a copy of the flyer designed by Bill Dowd, and it also is available on the club website.

AWARDS AND INDUCTION — A “Mid-Year Awards & New Member Induction” has been scheduled for our February 4 dinner meeting. Terry said we could have as many as 10 or 11 new members joining us. If that level is reached, District Governor Milan Jackson, who has urged each club to recruit at least one new member, will be invited to attend.

SRC Breakfast Chef logoBREAKFAST MEETINGS –– Terry noted that the next monthly breakfast meeting is set for next week — 7 a.m. Thursday, January 21 — at the CASDA offices. Thereafter, some of the breakfasts, which are held on the third Thursday of the month, will be held at the Greenbush YMCA.

STRIDE DINNER — The Stride Adaptive Sports dinner, organized by the group that works locally with Wounded Warriors and which the club recently presented with a $1,500 check, is scheduled for Friday, March 4. Tickets are $40 per person, and Terry said the club is hoping to purchase a table of 10. Please see him ASAP if you would like to participate.

RONALD McDONALD MEALS — Debbie Rodriguez has been in contact with the Ronald McDonald House in Albany about the possibility of our club making a meal for families staying there while receiving medical services. We can do either breakfast or dinner, or hold a baking session, and may create a meal as a one-time thing or on a regular or semi-regular basis. More discussion of this to come.

ONLINE NEWS — Bill Dowd reminded members to check our club website regularly. He just posted a report on the latest atrocities by the Pakistani Taliban on anti-polio workers and the policemen guarding them in one of the few countries in the world where polio still is endemic.

GIFT OF LIFE — Jim Leyhane reported that talks are continuing between the District 7190 GOL and Albany Medical Center over the price of providing lifesaving cardiac surgery for children from impoverished nations. Our GOL has been paying $10,000 per child even though in many other areas such as New York City and Boston the sponsoring GOL chapters there pay only $5,000. Now, Albany Med wants as much as $50,000 per patient from us. But, finances are not the only angle to this debate. Albany Med needs to perform 75 pediatric cardiac operations per year to be allowed to maintain that program. The four provided through the GOL last year brought Albany Med’s number to 73. That is close enough to 75 to be certified for another year, but if they price GOL out of the program, they will not reach their total needed. More to come.

NEXT MEETING — 6:15 p.m. Thursday, January 21, 2016, at Quigley’s.


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