Canadian Rotarians are working with Mexican Rotarians in Nogales to deliver vital services directly to the community of Corlina del Sol. This community is located just outside of Nogales.
What do I know about this important project?? Thanks to Cheryl Ewing, Frank Oudesluys and Bernie Varcoe. They invited me to join them and I really appreciate what they have done for me. The importance of such direct action is the firsthand experience that Rotary offers any Rotarian, especially the new members. Rotary is about service...service above self!
The Shoebox Project is involved in the collection of toys, blankets, winter clothing, specific items for women, groceries and many other items needed by the community. These items were donated or bought, collected and then sorted out. The items are sorted out by suitability to the appropriate age and gender group (e.g. for children, for elderly, for women and for the disabled. These items are then packed in individual boxes and labelled for identification.
This work is hands on and satisfying, especially when you see the big smiles on the faces of the children as they receive toys, the relief when women receive items they need, the joy when the elderly accepts their groceries.
We drove with a police escort to the villages to identify those in need. Under the guidance of the Nogales Rotarians, we handed out tickets for toys and groceries, one ticket per person. We marked their hands to identify them, matching the donation we intended to make.
On the day of the project, the children and their families lined up early. I wish you could see the excitement as the children waited for their gifts, the tears in the eyes of the women as they eagerly wait for things they need but have not been able to buy, the relief amongst the disabled as they wait to receive the donated items.
A ceremony was arranged and conducted by the Rotarians to welcome all those who came with their tickets. We even arranged a relay race: Rotarians versus the Nogales police. Guess who won? The Rotarians.... and we received such huge applause!
The gifts were then handed to all ticket holders. Food ration was also handed out.
Refurbishing an elementary school was another project that we did while we were in Nogales. We supplied assistance to refurbish school desks and presented these to the school. The Minister for Education and the Director of Social Services in Nogales both came to officiate the ceremony. The local press covered the event and Rotary was credited for the project.
Finally, the golden project of the week was to help an 11-year-old boy who needed a specific medication before he could have his heart operation. The medication required was to slow his breathing. The operation could only be done by a surgeon, who also volunteered to do it.
How could we fund such medication and surgeon to operate in time? It was a miracle! We found a source for the medicine and secured it. A surgeon, Dr Alejandra Apodaca, came forward to volunteer. She flew to Nogales and carried out the operation. It was a success! Thank you to Dr Alejandra Apodaca for saving the life of a young child.
All Rotarians involved went to visit the boy in hospital. He smiled and thanked us. His humble parents could say very little. Their tears of joy expressed their gratitude. The little boy is now ready to run! What a miracle! Thank you, Canadian and Nogales Rotarians!
I believe that every Rotarian should experience such work. Rotary is service above self. This kind of project gives Rotarians a chance to understand what it means to serve above self.
Sajjad Jiwaji