The Wakamow Rotary Club presented the Rotary Club of Moose Jaw with a certificate of appreciation for their contributions to the District 5550 Ripple Effect Program. 

The Ripple Effect Program, created by Deb and Gord LeMaistre, is designed to reduce poverty and build peace in Guatemalan communities by supporting, and providing educational opportunities for Guatemalan children. The district includes most of Saskatchewan, all of Manitoba, and Western Ontario. 

“In Guatemala, public education only goes to Grade 6,” explained Glenn Hagel, a member of the Wakamow Rotary Club, and Canadian Ripple Effect Committee. 

“Only about 23 per cent of the population in Guatemala has more than a Grade 6 education. Guatemala has the lowest rate of post-secondary education in all of the Americas. It also has a very high level of poverty and malnutrition. So, the places Moose Jaw and other Rotary Clubs are supporting are largely in rural Guatemala, and largely students who are Maya descent, who come from poor families.” 

In 2020 and 2021, the Ripple Effect Program invested over $204,000 in education in Guatemala, directly benefitting over 6,700 students and teachers. 

“The one that was really special in my heart was one of the schools called Chuchuca School, which our club here in Moose Jaw and the Ripple Effect Committee were involved in making several improvements,” said Hagel. 

“That school is also one of the 24 schools that were receiving washrooms from the project.” 

The ‘Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene,’ or ‘WASH’ project, began in 2020 and provided 24 schools with new washrooms and training in hygiene for students, parents, and teachers. 

“There are a lot of hygiene-related illnesses in Guatemala. All the kids would come from homes that do not have washrooms with running water as we know it, so it’s a significant step forward,” added Hagel. 

“One of the consequences of having poor, run-down outdoor ‘biffies,’ is that girls who approach their menstruation age, if there aren’t washrooms that are safe, secure, and healthy, they start dropping out of school. So, the reality is, if you believe in gender parity in education in Guatemala, then you have to believe in washrooms.” 

The Rotary Club saw a couple of schools with building projects finished, and hygiene training for parents, teachers, and students completed. 

“It was extremely well received and they were very appreciative of the support that they got from Rotary,” said Hagel.