Creating peace through opportunity
SUMMIT COUNTY – Three Summit County residents are headed to Manchay, Peru, next month as part of the Summit County Rotary Club’s effort to make a difference in the world.
Manchay is a community of about 50,000 displaced agricultural workers and their families. It is about a 30-minute drive from the capital city of Lima.
Manchay is a dry, desolate area where families have made their homes in shacks, shanties, boarded-up buildings or whatever they can find, said Paul Siegert, local Rotary Club director of international services.
The town has no water system and must have water shipped in to fill its tanks and cisterns. The water must be boiled before the locals drink it.
Though Manchay is a district of Lima, the capital does little to provide for the area and offers no education or health services for the community, Siegert said.
Father Jose, a Catholic priest in Manchay, has been leading an effort to build infrastructure for residents and provide health and educational services.
Through Father Jose’s efforts, the town has gained some elementary and nursery school rooms, a middle school and some health clinics.
Last fall, in a search for an international project which the Rotary Club could sponsor, Siegert visited Manchay. By then, Father Jose had begun a project to build a high school.
Siegert toured the schools and clinics being built and when he saw the high school under construction, he offered to buy school equipment, such as computers, science lab equipment, books and shelving.
Siegert said he was “extremely impressed” with two things after touring Manchay – the “desperate needs” of the community and Father Jose’s leadership.
“I was very impressed with his leadership and his commitment,” Siegert said. “I believe it’s effective to put our efforts behind somebody who’s doing a good job. He’s developed a real educational value system that I like.”
Instead of giving away clothes and other forms of assistance, Father Jose asks his recipients for some sort of payment – whether they pay him the equivalent of 25 cents or help wash a floor, Siegert said.
“They will learn there’s nothing for free,” he said. “He’s teaching these people real fundamental values about what it takes to survive in the world – succeed in the world, if you will.”
As workers completed the school building, the Summit County Rotary Club began fundraising for the project. With the help of the local Catholic and Lutheran communities, the Kremmling and Granby Rotary Clubs and matching grants from the Colorado Rotary district and Rotary International, the club raised $37,000.
Siegert and local Rotarians Julianne Cobb and Dick Masica are headed to Manchay Aug. 10 to help install equipment, check on the progress of the project and look for additional ways the local Rotary Club can assist the impoverished community.
The Rotary Club has made a three-year commitment to helping Manchay.
“The concept now is to get out there and see truly where the needs are,” Cobb said. “Once we get there, I’m sure we’ll have just a huge laundry list of things to do.”
“I believe that helping communities like this and helping the people over there learn and advance themselves creates opportunities for them,” Siegert said. “And by creating opportunities for them, we can do more to create peace in the world.”
Lu Snyder can be reached
at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or
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