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Our commitment to world service originates with Los Altos Rotarians' passionate, personal commitment to helping people around the world help themselves.
 
 
Purpose of the World Community Service Committee
 
The primary role of the active and popular World Community Service (WCS) committee is help locals throughout the world help themselves. WCS directs Rotarians’ time, talent and resources toward these in-need communities through various projects in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Our grants build capabilities in underserved communities through Educating Youth, Economic Development and Sustainability, Emergency Relief, and Community Health. 
 
Rotarians have the opportunity to visit, as well as assist, on these projects by traveling to countries on three different continents. For example, in October 2017 Rotarians visited the Altiplano region of the Peruvian Andes including Cuzco, the ancient Inca ruins at Machu Picchu, and the project site in Puno. 
 
For details and how to donate to any project, contact Jack Higgins, Director, International Services; Wendy Walleigh, WCS Chair; or Karen Berner, WCS Vice Chair. 
 
Some Locations Where We Have Impact:
Latin America 
(Peru, Haiti, Mexico, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Chile)
Asia 
(Nepal, Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan, Indonesia, Afghanistan)
Africa 
(Liberia, Kenya, Cote D’Ivoire, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania)
 
 
Educating Youth
 
 
Kenya: Educating Youth to be Environmental Stewards of Both Land and Wildlife
  • Komba Safaris is a pilot project started and financed by the Rotary Club of Los Altos and Kindness in Action, Inc. USA (KIA). Komba Safaris has completed 17 safaris (students are from schools in informal settlement areas of Nairobi), teaching students how to conserve and appreciate wildlife by taking them to wildlife conservation and rescue centers. To see pictures and Komba Safaris’ latest newsletter click here.  Lead: Clari Nolet.
 
Yucatan, Mexico: Educating Rural Youth to be Prepared for 21st Century Economy
  • In the rural, indigenous Mayan villages in the region around Merida on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula schools are very primitive and unable to prepare students for the 21st Century global economies. In multiple phases, Los Altos and Palo Alto Rotary Clubs -- in partnership with Proyecto-Itzaes -- have provided improved “standard” STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math), environmental, and computer literacy programs. As a result, students are not only successful in primary and secondary schools, but also better prepared to attend university! We have provided: Books, eReaders, and computers; mobile libraries with young local senior students acting as librarians and role models; and projects in environmental sustainability. 
  • The project also supported teaching of sustainable technology practices via the use of solar and rocket stoves and the manufacturing of cooking fuel briquettes from biomass plant waste. A STEM lesson plan translated into Spanish for the school kids explains the use and science behind these sustainable devices. Lead:  Jane Reed.
 
Petitionville, Haiti: Helping Rebuild School and Community Center Destroyed by 2010 Earthquake
  • After the destructive 2010 earthquake struck this island nation, many more disasters befell Haiti that decimated the economy including hurricanes, unstable ground, and rampant corruption with the government and other organizations. Los Altos Rotary -- in partnership with One Dollar for Life (Los Altos High School nonprofit), three Canadian Rotary Clubs, and others -- banded together to help rebuild a K--12 school in Petitionville, Haiti, named SOPUDEP as well as an orphanage and community center. SOPUDEP stands for Society of Providence United for the Economic Development of Petitionville. This joint grant supplied building materials for essential construction. After the school’s opening in 2017, the groups provided eBooks and eReaders, computers, solar LED reading lights, and locally manufactured school desks, chairs, tables and cabinets. Students were also taught an appreciation for sustainable technology practices.
  • Phase Two of the Global Grant provides solar equipment, which will enable school to remain open during blackouts. This grant also enables the school to expand service as a community center, providing the residents with meeting, activity, and vocational education classes in the evenings.  Los Altos Lead: Allan Varni.
 
Liberia: Monrovia Football Academy and LEAD Africa
  • The Monrovia Football Academy, founded in 2015 in Monrovia, Liberia recruits football (a.k.a. soccer) athletes to become academically successful as well as grow into future leaders. The school focuses on a blended learning education model and has become part of the LEAD Africa program,  incorporating LEAD Morocco academy (est. 2019 in El Mansouria, Bensliman, Morocco) as well as multiple planned new schools across the continent. Los Altos has provided grants for dormitory furniture as well as school equipment/supplies. Los Altos Rotary is partnering with other rotary clubs to support these schools as they grow to reach more children.  A new Global Grant (draft as of 2/1/20) has partner Calif. RCs: Burlingame, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Saratoga. Lead: Steve Geisheker.
 
Ogubulu, Nigeria: New Library in a Primary School
  • The Saratoga Rotary Club invited Los Altos RC to join a project to significantly improve an elementary school in Ogubulu, Nigeria by purchasing essential equipment and books for a new library.  Members of the local Rotary Club of Asaba Central in Ogubulu, purchased and built library shelving and study desks, then placed new books on the shelves. This library is now part of these students’ support system. Saratoga RC’s project also included a borehole (well), drinking water and toilets for the school. Los Altos Lead: Wendy Walleigh.
 
Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, West Africa: Enrolling and Supporting New Students in Karat School
  • The Karat School Project was founded in late 2017 by Cote D’Ivoire-native Evelyne Keoman who lives in Palo Alto. This direct service organization provides education, meals, and other urgently needed necessities to children — and related women — living in extreme poverty in Cote D’Ivoire (a.k.a. Ivory Coast). After running weekly reading, writing, and meals distribution programs in 6 sub-communities, Karat School opened in Fall 2018, in the extremely poor Yopougon Alloukoua District of Abidjan (the capital). The three classrooms (60 student capacity) with desks, chairs, and basic teaching materials provides early childhood and primary education, starting with 18 students. Los Altos RC’s small grant enabled several new students to begin their education and receive required healthcare. Lead: Sherry Auerbach.  
 
Guatemala: Esperanza Juvenil Primary School Plans Expansion to High School
  • Palo Alto Rotary Club is leading the project to support the development of Esperanza Juvenil High School in Guatemala City, Guatemala. The Esperanza Juvenil Elementary School has been a pillar of the community for decades, providing — and delivering — the promise of a hopeful future through boarding and valuable education to underprivileged boys and girls throughout the region.  Previously, its graduates attended private high schools, but the administration felt the students did not thrive there.  With the opening of this high school in January 2019, these students have continuity of academics, lifestyle, as well as much-needed assistance with college preparation. Los Altos RC supported this high school opening with a cash grant. We also plan to help fund the Global Grant that will enable the high school to have a stable, strong future. Los Altos Lead: Karen Berner.
 
Mustafa Abad, Pakistan: Encouraging Youth Science Education Through “Makerspace” Activities
  • At Banyan School, in the village of Mustafa Abad, District Qasur near Lahore, Pakistan, approximately 140 selected male and female students experience hands-on science projects in a “Makerspace project,” supervised by Shabrang Foundation, funded by Los Altos RC, and overseen by Rotary Club of Lahore.  The program’s goals are to inspire students to continue in STEM education as well as learn computational thinking, exploration, and fabrication and then apply these 21st Century skills to hands-on, real world projects. This project also built the capacity of the teachers and staff to properly train these students by providing Saturday classes with an IT professional and 3 teachers. Simple “building materials” are provided with trained staff to enable typical student projects like traffic light systems, clay model of farm, origami furniture, motorized toys, and various arts and crafts. Lead: Karen Berner.
 
Vietnam: Soccer Balls to Stop Human Trafficking
  • Led by Oakland Uptown RC, Los Altos RC provided a small grant to purchase a few cases of “indestructible” soccer balls for distribution to local or Vietnamese schools. Each $250 case of balls underwrites the cost to keep one girl in school in Vietnam, which prevents her from being trafficked as a work slave, involuntary bride, or worse. Extremely poor families often “sell” their girls to brokers to get money to feed the rest of the family. This soccer ball pilot program was so successful that District 5170 is supporting Oakland’s creation of a large Global Grant to broaden the impact. Because Vietnam has still not allowed Rotary there, the project partner is a licensed, local NGO, Pacific Links Foundation. Los Altos Lead: Wendy Walleigh.
 
Da Nang, Vietnam: Training disabled children to be more independent
  • Los Altos RC funded a small grant to support the work of Children of Vietnam (COV), which is located in Greensboro, NC and has been supporting youth in Central Vietnam for over 20 years. Under the umbrella of COV’s initiative, Hope System of Care for Children with Disabilities, disabled Vietnamese youth (ages 12-18) participate in group workshops, within a safe, confidential setting to learn how to protect and stop sexual violence against themselves and others, under the guidance of qualified adult facilitators. Eight all-day sexual violence workshops for disabled youth will take place in Da Nang City in 2020--post COVID-19 crisis--with 110 COV-identified, disabled youth in partnership with local civic groups. At the COV-facilitated workshop, these youths learn about the concepts and types of sexual violence, ways to prevent it, legal protections, and community resources to support disabled youth who have been abused. Lead: Wendy Walleigh.
 
Economic Development & Sustainability
 
 
Tatopani, Nepal: Economic Development with Sustainable Technologies for Solar Cooking & Lighting, Agriculture, Carpentry and Metal-Working  
  • Since 2003, Los Altos WCS has been working in partnership on similar projects in rural villages with various Nepalese Rotary Clubs and the Foundation for Sustainable Technology (FoST), an NGO based in Kathmandu. These efforts are focused on empowering the poor, women and the disabled to learn sustainability practices, how to be self-employed and to improve their health. Villagers are introduced to locally fabricated solar cookers and dryers and LED reading lights; water purification, sanitation, efficient clean-burning rocket stoves and biomass briquette presses. The grant also provides vocational training in carpentry, metal working, sustainable agriculture and small business.  After launch, the project was delayed by multiple earthquakes and monsoons (see also Nepal projects in “Emergency Relief” section) that displaced the Tatopani villagers from their destroyed homes to safer areas with make-shift shelters.  WCS has been a partner with Kathmandu Sunrise Rotary Club (KSRC) and FoST. Lead:  Allart Ligtenberg.
 
Puno, Peru: Sustainability, Health, Micro-Business and Community Development
  • Los Altos Rotary Club has been partnering with Mill Valley Rotary Club and Peruvian NGO Kusimayo to provide fresh produce through year-round greenhouses, rainwater cachement and irrigation for families in Peru. The project provides much needed nutrition, farming skills, and economic development for families in need and is overseen by the local Rotary District. Since 2015, we have been working on a third Global Grant near Puno, Peru. Kusimayo recruits, then trains farmer cohorts -- approximately 100 farmers will have been taught when latest grant is complete -- how to improve their nutrition and generate income from the sale of excess production.  While Los Altos drove the first grant, we are now supporting Mill Valley RC which is heading the most recent grants. 
  • In October 2017, a group of Rotarians visited the site to observe how we have helped to improve the lives of families in the Altiplano region of the Peruvian Andes.  During the trip, Rotarians also took the opportunity to see Cuzco and the ancient Inca ruins at Machu Picchu, with an extension to tour the Galapagos Islands. Los Altos Lead for details and potential travel: Jackie Olson.
Yucatan, Mexico: New Solar-Powered Submersible Pump System to Support Reforestation Project
  • One of the principle missions for Amigos del Centro del Educación Ambiental de la Peninsula Yucateca (CEAPY) is reforestation to expand the Reserva San Nicolás bioreserve that will replace the slashed-and-burned older tropical forests. CEAPY requested Los Altos RC’s support to purchase additional solar panels, inverter and submersible pump system along with associated plumbing lines to pump water from an already existing 25 ft deep well up to an elevated water tank.  This would feed the plantation’s drip irrigation system needed to water the thousands of young seedling trees during the dry season to their level of sufficient maturity – when they are mature enough to be replanted in deforested regions of the jungle. The closest town is Cenotillo, approx. 160 km east of Merida.
  • It is further planned that a group of Los Altos Rotarians will visit the project and the CEAPY Reserva San Nicolás  for first-hand confirmation of grant-related activities in conjunction with ‘hands-on’ service project in support of the Reserva San Nicolás mission. Leads: Jane Reed and Frank Verlot.
 
Guatemala: Empowering Women to Become Entrepreneurs to Move Beyond Poverty
 
  • Led by San Mateo Rotary Club with NGO Namaste Direct (https://namastedirect.org), Los Altos is supporting this Global Grant to empower 125 women to pull themselves and their families out of poverty through Namaste’s “Creating Prosperity” program in the Suchitepéquez and Boca Costa of Solola Departments of Guatemala. With poverty rampant in this predominantly Mayan area, gender inequality poses significant challenges for women who are often responsible for supporting their families. This grant supports the self-sufficiency and standard of living for women with small businesses in this region by providing them with business advising and financial education. These women entrepreneurs will be equipped to exponentially increase their incomes, leading to healthier families and more prosperous communities. Los Altos Lead: Wendy Walleigh. 
 
Dominican Republic: Ending Poverty via Pearls with Purpose Aftercare Training
  • As a result of a Los Altos Rotarian meeting Pearls with a Purpose led by NGO Mentors International at the 2019 Rotary International Conference, we have supported their project in the Dominican Republic.  This specific effort provides women in the Dominican Republic with vocational training and education to break the cycle of poverty and refrain and/or survive a life of sex trafficking and abuse. In-country mentors are hired to do business training and financial literacy programs, which focuses on utilizing local resources and business opportunities. Los Altos’ funding goes toward their loan fund so that after these female entrepreneurs attend their business-training and leave the aftercare facilities, they can apply for small micro loans to invest and grow their own businesses.  These loans are paid back to create a perpetual funding program from which others benefit. Lead: Karen Berner.
 
Indonesia, Sumba Island: Clean Water, Sanitation and Sustainable Agriculture
  • WCS partnered in a 17-club project, now in its final Monitoring and Evaluation Phase through the end of 2020. This project provided villagers with materials and training to harvest rainwater from rooftops; build and use new ECO toilets for homes and schools; process human manure for fertilizer to expand their crop yields without toxic chemicals; ensure safety of water through regular, accurate testing and clean harvesting tanks in village schools and homes.  The project also taught consistent guidelines among villagers and schools to establish and maintain improved personal sanitation, handwashing, etc. Good education has enabled students to train their parents about improving sanitation habits.  Lead: Allart Ligtenberg
 
 
Emergency Relief
 
 
Rural Nepal: Emergency Services Post-2015 Earthquake and Subsequent Earthquakes and Monsoons 
  • Following the 2015 Nepal Earthquake, Los Altos partnered with the Sunrise Rotary Club in Kathmandu (KSRC) to distribute immediate aid in the form of emergency shelter, food, warm clothing, clean water, medicine, and solar lights. KSRC’s project also works with Architects without Borders and other NGOs to vet/check buildings, build latrines, and supply corrugated metal and Rocket Stoves for use in tents/shelters.  Monies were raised through other Rotary clubs, a variety of community organizations, schools and private donors to offset the government’s inadequate funds. The next phase would be to provide new earthquake resistant housing and to train locals to build more resilient structures. These efforts would improve the quality of village life, in particular in the more remote villages. Lead: Allart Ligtenberg.  
     
Nepal: Building of Earthquake-Resistant Homes and Schools in Remote Villages
  • Rebuilding was initiated by Kathmandu Sunrise Rotary Club working with the international NGO Architecture Sans Frontiers (ASF) from several European countries. ASF is also set up in Nepal. They helped establish Technical Support Offices in the most impacted districts to help rural villages like Kavre, Bungamati, Rasuwa and Dolakha. ASF teams provided villagers with designs, drawings, and training to build new earthquake-resistant, though traditional-looking housing. Weather setbacks since Winter 2017-2018 plus less than impactful government response continues to slow progress.
  • Many of the remote villagers moved to Kathmandu Valley for more stable ground and weather. There, ASF also provided vocational training to women and men, i.e., various masonry and other techniques, e.g., treating wood for durability, to be able to build new, safer houses and schools. Once these buildings are sturdy, the typical stone outer layer can be added to give the feeling of age-old traditions. 
  • ASF also designs or renovates Public Toilets with proposed features such as female/child-friendly, differently-abled, water-installed, hygienically built, aesthetically pleasing, etc. Various other municipalities are very interested also. Lead: Allart Ligtenberg.  
Haiti: Emergency Relief Post-2010 Earthquake and After-Shocks and Subsequent Hurricanes 
  • Post the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, Los Altos partnered with the Rotary
    Club of Champs de Mar, Port au Prince, Haiti. Support is ongoing, in
    particular with the Solar Global Grant.  Lead: Allan Varni.
 
Puerto Rico: Re-Building Water Access for Remote Villages
  • Following 2017’s Hurricane Maria which destroyed many remote Puerto Rican villages, Los Altos Rotary Club partnered with the Rotary Clubs of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Rochester and Greece, NY in a large Global Grant to re-build water access for over 800 rural villagers. Though their old water tank was still in good shape, they needed to get water from a new 600-foot deep well that was close to the old productive well that was minimally accessible to less than 40 homes. Also, a new pumping system and water meters were required. These villagers can now access clean water, are trained on sanitation and systems’ maintenance, and sustainably administer the villages’ water systems. Lead: Frank Verlot.
 
 
Community Health
 
 
Nepal: Equipping Birthing Centers and Training Skilled Birth Attendants
  • Rural Nepal was decimated by the 2015 Earthquake and the many subsequent temblors as well as the seasonal monsoons which continue to slow down rebuilding. Particularly vulnerable are the pregnant women and new mothers, especially in light of the few existing birthing centers that were destroyed.  Currently approximately 12% of babies die within one week of birth and up to 2% of mothers die in childbirth at home, in unclean conditions. Partnering with the Kantipur Sunrise Rotary Club and NGO One Heart Worldwide, we are building or re-constructing 16 birthing centers to reduce infant and maternal mortality. Additionally, birthing attendants have been trained in modern techniques and provided with much improved equipment.  In turn, they can train local village midwives as well as serve in birthing centers.  Lead: Karen Berner.
 
Oaxaca, Mexico: Administering On-Site Healthcare to Rural Villages with Minimal Access
  • Indigenous peoples from villages outside Oaxaca who need minor surgery or other medical attention are typically unable to obtain these services. Oaxaca Rotarians raise funds each year to set up temporary clinics and buy medicine and supplies. Villagers are evaluated and transported for treatment on set days a couple of times each year, called Jornadas Medicas. On these days, a group of medical professionals drives to these villages to provide normally unavailable health services. Volunteer surgeons perform cataract and minor general surgeries. Other volunteers provide post-surgery care.  The patients are then returned to their villages following surgery all at no cost to the patient. 
  • Before their visit to Oaxaca, Los Altos Rotarians contacted one of Oaxaca’s RCs to ask how we could help their projects and found out that their members were predominantly health professionals, who had established these periodic Jornadas Medicas (Medical Days).  Los Altos Rotary provided a micro-grant to support Oaxaca Rotarians and the Jornadas Medicas project benefiting underserved communities.  The free medical and surgical services allow the people served to return to their villages and lead productive lives. 
Kenya: Offering Reusable Menstrual Kits to Keep Girls in School
  • One Dollar for Life (ODFL) has worked with Los Altos RC for many years on different projects, including in Haiti and Nepal. Most recently Los Altos RC supports their Girls EqUALITY Project (GEP) in Nepal, South Africa, Kenya & soon Uganda. Once girls start menstruating, there is potential for them to drop out of school because most have no access to “Western-style, standard sanitary goods.” These girls miss school up to a week at a time, pushing them further behind in the curriculum. At some point they are often forced to leave school and face limited future opportunities.
  • The solution is simple: ODFL provides reusable sanitary kits at US$5.00 per girl. ODFL works with local seamstresses to sew the kits and girls who use them don’t have to miss school.  It’s a win-win that benefits the seamstresses’ families’ incomes, the girls’ ability to complete their education, and builds community as a result. Lead: Wendy Walleigh.
 
Thailand: Clean Water to Local School
  • Palo Alto and Samui-Phangan (in Koh Samui) RCs asked for Los Altos’ support for the 2017 pilot clean water project to benefit over 500 students and staff at Wat Lamai School on Koh Samui Island, Thailand.  Despite the island’s bustling tourism, there is minimal money or effort to provide clean water for the locals.  Today, the water purification and pump system project pilot at Wat Lamai School gives their few hundred students drinking clean water. That leaves nearly 7,000 other students in 23 schools to suffer with poor water.  Palo Alto RC, with support from Samui-Phangan RC is drafting a large Global Grant to spread clean water access across the islands’ schools. Los Altos Lead: Karen Berner
 
Western Uganda: Telemedicine to Support School Near Kyangwali
  • The Kyangwali Refugee Settlement in Western Uganda is home to over 100,000 refugees from the ongoing civil war in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. Two nonprofits, Not For Sale (an anti-human-trafficking organization based in San Francisco) and CIYOTA (COBURWAS International Youth Organization to Transform Africa), have built a boarding school nearby for 550 young refugees. One nurse is responsible for providing all health care services for the students and staff, and she has no physician backup. 
  • WCS is providing a small grant to obtain a computer and internet access for use by the nurse. Now she will be able to connect with an international network of physician volunteers who can provide online consultations whenever she is uncertain about the appropriate diagnoses and treatment plans for her patients. Lead: Jack Higgins.
 
Ethiopia: Establishing Oxygen-Generation for Rural Hospital
  • Initiated by a Stanford nurse who is a member of the Castro Valley Rotary Club, this project is supported by multiple Rotary Clubs in District 5170, including a small grant from Los Altos. It became the largest Global Grant for District 5170: $350,000. A hospital in rural Ethiopia had been dependent on getting oxygen tanks from the capital, Addis Ababa, hundreds of kilometers away over bad roads. With the new oxygen-generation plant at the hospital providing a steady, local supply of oxygen, healthcare professionals can ease the lives in the surrounding region, from pregnant women and babies to the elderly. This has literally saved lives! Los Altos Lead: Frank Verlot.
 
 
PAST PROJECTS
 
Monduli, Tanzania: Education, Community Development
  • Los Altos Rotary developed a large Global Grant in partnership with Saratoga, Almaden Valley, Gilroy, Gilroy Sunrise, Hollister and Morgan Hill Rotary clubs, to support the expansion of the Orkeeswa Secondary School of Monduli., on Maasai land.  The grant provided solar power, school supplies and access to clean water. The school teaches both boys and girls to become future leaders in their community and to help bring the greater Maasai culture into the 21st Century.  
 
Afghanistan: Supporting Sustainable Farming in Remote Villages
  • Funding to purchase sheep, goats and orchard tree saplings, plus constructing flood control levees and helping equip schools to improve life in remote villages in collaboration with the ‘Trust in Education’ NGO project.
 
Indonesia, Jakarta and Nias Island:  Training & Equipment for Clean Water & Sanitation
  • Los Altos partnered with the Rotary Club of Jakarta Sentral in the Jakarta slums around Ciliwung River to help 3,700 people. WCS funds provided training and equipment for clean water (bioporic wells/piping/reservoir); improved sanitation/hygiene; trained nurses in a clinic; provided a mobile medical clinic truck to improve nutrition, sanitation and health in Jakarta’s informal settlements; taught vertical agriculture on balconies; and offered disaster response to floods. 
  • On Nias Island next to the location of the tsunami earthquake, our funding supported the poor, remote villages with clean water and improved sanitation; installed public toilets; and taught sustainable agricultural practices and animal husbandry.  Also, they received large supplies of nutrition, vitamins, and medicines as well as medical care by a doctor and nurse. Almost 4,000 remote villagers’ lives were saved including 600 kids who were prevented from suffering from brain damage typical with longtime starvation.
 
Guatemala: Post Hurricane Relief and Creating Enhanced, Sustainable Villages
  • Working with Palo Alto Rotary, after the hurricane and landslide,
    the grantpromoted village sustainability, clean water and improved
    health. This included high-efficiency community cooking stoves
    for several Mayan villages aimed at reduced cooking fuel costs,
    carbon footprint and deforestation.  
 
Chile: Emergency Relief after the 2010 Earthquake & Support for the Coaniquem Burn Center
  • Sent emergency shelter, clothing and food supplies after the 2010 earthquake. 
  • Support the Coaniquem Burn Center for the treatment of burned
    children.
 
 
Kokhana, Nepal: Training Disabled Villagers for Self-Employment
  • A completed project in Kokhana villages and leprosaria taught the “forgotten groups” of the disabled to make and sell biomass briquettes and solar cookers.