Libby Rotarian, George Gerard, helping to initiate a project in Pasac, Guatemala, where a water system is being installed to replace an outdated system which can no longer provide sustainability to those it serves. The improved system will potentially provide a means to improve the local economy by offering a way to clean the outgoing coffee harvests and drive a higher return.
(Photo Courtesy of Eileen Carney)
Rotary Club of the Kootenai Valley
continues mission work in Guatemala
Rotary Club of the
Maria is a twelve-year-old girl who has not yet learned to read or write. She had gone to school for two years and loved the little she could learn from the few textbooks which her school possessed – most old and well used. Ultimately, her father took her out of school because she was needed at home.
One of her most important jobs today is bringing water from the river to her house. The river is at the bottom of a ravine and badly contaminated because it passes through a large city on its way down to Maria’s village. She walks to the bottom of the ravine, fills her container, then walks back up carrying the water on her head.
Bringing enough water for she and her three siblings takes a good portion of her day. It would be impossible for her to carry enough for everyone to bathe, so at times the water collected is reused. Maria has also learned that the dirty water from the city upstream must be boiled before use, as she watched a friend go through severe health problems from drinking the water.
The problems which Maria and so many people experience with acquiring clean water are the
impetus behind the work which the Rotary Club of the Kootenai Valley is doing in Guatemala. On
a recent trip, George and Linda Gerard and Eileen Carney visited several projects where change
is at work to improve
the conditions and quality of life.
The first day in Guatemala, the trio visited a project that the Rotary Club of Columbia Falls has undertaken – providing water purification systems and hand
washing stations for schools where clean
water is not available.
Rotarians are working with a group in Guatemala called Buenos Vecinos (Good neighbors). They build the hand washing stations in the schools and teach students the importance of cleanliness.
The water is then saved after washing and put through a system to purify it. Other contaminated water also goes through the same system. This proves an inexpensive way to cleanse the dirty water and again make it useful.
Next, the Libby
Rotarians visited Pasac, where residents are working on a project to rebuild an older water system. The water at this site comes from a spring in the mountains and is piped down to a storage tank. The original system used pipes that were too small for the volume of water the people needed.
Aside from providing more water for these
residents, the rebuilt system will be used to clean
coffee grown in the area. If it can be proved that the beans are washed with clean water, they can sell it
as organic and get a better price which in turn will greatly help the local economy.
The third site visited was in the town of La
Vega. People were re-settled here by the government after a war between the Guatemalan army and the guerillas. They were given no help and have now been there for 25 years without a water system.
The Rotary Coalition of Northwest Montana will soon be installing a water well and a tank. It has taken four years to gather the money and make the plans, but the hope is that work will begin on building the system by the end of May.
Bringing clean water to the people of Guatemala continues to be a strong focus for the Rotarian Clubs of Northwest Montana. Water is vital for good health, and perhaps with improved systems in place, children like Maria can return to school and feed their desperate want to learn.
Managing Your Mental Health
This past year presented many
different challenges and obstacles that tested our strength and resiliency. The global pandemic forced us to cope with situations never before imagined, and many of us struggled with our mental health as a result. The good news is that there are tools and resources available that can support the well-being of
individuals and communities.
Now, more than ever, we need to combat the stigma surrounding mental health concerns. That is why, this
Mental Health Month, Cabinet Peaks Medical Centers Senior Life Solutions is highlighting #Tools2Thrive – what individuals can do throughout their daily lives to prioritize mental health, build resiliency, and continue to cope with the obstacles of COVID-19.
Throughout the pandemic, many people found themselves struggling with mental health challenges for the first time. During the month of May, we are focusing on tools that can help us process the events of the past year and the feelings that surround them, while also building up skills and supports that extend beyond COVID-19.
We know that the past year forced many to accept tough situations that they had little control over. If you found that it impacted your mental health, you aren’t alone. In fact, of the almost half a million individuals that took the anxiety screening at MHAscreening.org, 79% showed symptoms of moderate to
severe anxiety. However, there are practical tools that can help improve your mental health.
Our program is focused on managing anger and frustration, recognizing when trauma may be affecting your mental health, challenging negative thinking patterns, and making time to take care of yourself.
It’s important to remember that working on your mental health and finding tools that help you thrive takes time. Change won’t happen overnight. Instead, by focusing on small changes, you can move through the stressors of the past year and develop long-term strategies to support yourself on an ongoing basis.
For each of us, the tools we use to keep us mentally healthy will be unique. But Senior Life Solutions wants everyone to know that mental illness is real, and recovery is possible.
Finding what works for you may not be easy but can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes. By developing your own #Tools2Thrive, it is possible to find balance between work and play, the ups and downs of life, and physical health and mental health – to set yourself on the path to recovery.
For more information, visit:
www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may or call Cabinet Peaks Medical Centers Senior Life Solutions at 283-6890.