Rotary Club continues legacy of helping in Honduras

Special to the PRESS

In 1998, Hurricane Mitch devastated Honduras. This Category 5 hurricane destroyed 35,000 homes and damaged another 50,000 homes. 1.5 million people (20% of the population) were left homeless and 11,000 to 18,000 were killed. Approximately $2 billion worth of damage left the country in a shambles. Relief agencies sprang into action to provide assistance for those left homeless and without food, water or medical care. As with all natural disasters many of these organizations eventually moved on to help other victims of natural disaster. However, Rotary International is still there assisting with community and economic development, water and sanitation, and disease prevention and treatment among other things. Rotary International is a service organization made up of business and professional people and is made up of 34000 clubs with over 1.2 million members worldwide.

Hands to Honduas, Inc. is a tax exempt affiliate of the Port Isabel Rotary Club. Founded by the Middlebury, Vermont Rotary Club in 1999, by Rotarian Tom Plumb, sponsorship the Port.Isabel club in 2007, when Plumb moved to Laguna Vista. Since 2007, Port Isabel Rotary has partnered with the Trujillo, Honduras Rotary club primarily building schools, providing electricity to villages and constructing community water systems.

Each February, Rotarian volunteers along with friends and family from around the United States travel to Trujillo to work on water and school construction projects for 9 days. No skill is necessary and volunteers pay their own expenses. This February, volunteers, including 4 children, built a water system for one of three Pech Indian villages in the country. The population of this village has doubled from 17 families to 33 families over the past few years, thanks to improvements to the village made by Rotarians…construction of an elementary school with latrines, a kindergarten, electricity, and new metal roofs on their adobe and thatch homes. This has created the need for the construction of a clean water system. Over the past two years, volunteers have built a clean water tank, a slow sand filter tank (sand and gravel purify the water), and a river water tank. A chlorination system will be added in June. Villagers build the foundations before the volunteers arrive, work with the volunteers and complete the projects.

The Port Isabel Rotary Club was also recently awarded a $102,475.0 Global matching Grant from the Rotary Foundation. Funds are raised by the Port Isabel Rotary Club…their $4,500.00 club donation and $2,000.00 additional funding from members resulted in a total of $29,250.00 after matching funds. Other Texas Rotary clubs and individuals joined with Rotarians from North Carolina, Florida, Canada and Taiwan provided additional funds and the resulting match from the Rotary Foundation to complete the funding package.

The Global Grant will construct a water system for 3,000 residents in Barrio Eduardo Castillo in Trujillo, Honduras who currently receive water every 8 days during the dry season. A dam with a sediment filter will be constructed on a river 1.8 miles away, pipeline will be laid along this route to a new 50,000 gallon water storage tank with a chlorination system, and new pipeline will replace leaky, 30 year old pipeline to the 400 homes and businesses. Residents will have water all day during the rainy season and for five hours a day during the dry season. The community is providing all of the professional and manual labor. A new monthly fee structure will provide for two water technicians, a part time secretary and a full time health professional to monitor the cleanliness of the water and provide hygiene education focusing on families currently suffering from water borne diseases. This project should be completed in a year.

For more information and to inquire about volunteering (you do not need to be a Rotarian to volunteer) contact Tom Plumb at

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