Parksville AM Rotarians are busy planning their fourth annual building adventure in Mexico.  Having completed a multi-use Community Centre for seniors and children in 2017, Year 4 will see the team of Parksville AM Rotarians, partners and friends undertake the construction of a training centre for the local Rural Development Education Brigade in the small community of Vicente Guerrero, located in the San Quintin Valley, Baja California, Mexico.

The training centre will provide a teaching facility for up to 800 students per year with a curriculum that will teach 12 different vocational skills, including instruction on how to start a business and skills to improve the efficiency and economic returns from an existing business or farm enterprise.

These projects are the result of a unique collaboration between the Club and Live Different, a Canadian non-profit organization with a home base in Vicente Guerrero, which has seen the successful completion of three building projects in the last three years: a family home, a kindergarten, and a community centre. 

With each project, one thing has led to another and, with the guidance of Live Different, the bar continues to be raised.  A donation of tools by a participant from the 2015 house-build led to the idea of a Building Trade Centre.  The Rotary Club of Parksville AM, along with the Rotary Club of Semiahmoo, helped fund the construction of this building and then made it usable through the addition of interior furnishings and functional work spaces.  This Centre is now offering woodworking, welding and mechanical training classes, at the same time providing job experience. Through the training of local workers, more work can be done in the community, thus supporting the local economy and creating jobs.

The three major builds have been “hands-on” and have been accomplished through contributions from individual team members.  Each participant pays a fee which covers the costs of construction and living expenses.  Travel costs and incidentals are also the responsibility of individual team members, not to mention their commitment to spend eight days of physical labour in the hot sun or, as was the case in the 2017 build, in the driving rain.

Recently, the Club was the recipient of the Floyd and Sandra Olson Award and named the 2016/17 International Club of the Year for its work in Mexico.  The $500 prize money for this award has already been applied to the Adult Education Centre which will be completed in 2018.

With each successive project, the Rotary Club of Parksville AM continues to increase its scope and intensify its commitment to sustainability and local capacity building.  Each project brings a different set of challenges, and the Club is always happy to welcome new members.  Participants think of it as a “holiday”, offering long days of hard work, delicious local home cooking, great camaraderie with fellow Rotarians, and an opportunity to make a difference in an increasingly expanding community … all at their own expense!  For more information, contact Jo Dunn at 250-248-6393 or jo_dunn@telus.net.