In recent years, the Aiken Rotary Club, the Aiken Sunrise and North Augusta Rotary Clubs spearheaded efforts to help a Guatemala community with books and other items – especially lifts for kids with disabilities.


Recently, Rotarians Del Hickey, Deborah Brooks and Lyn Kenney have learned the community is seeking Disney-type DVDs and video tapes for these children – as well as the DVD players and VCRs to use them.


Persons interested in donating the items or assisting the project financially may call Hickey at 803-642-5852.


“We've had a relationship in Guatemala for several years, working primarily with the special needs children and their families.” Hickey said.


Area Rotarians have “adopted” a school in the district of Municipio San Juan – Centro de Rehabilitacion de Educacion Especial. The school helps children and young adults with physical and cognitive disabilities. Some Rotarians are scheduled to visit the community in March to plant trees to alleviate erosion issues.


Area clubs have provided medical equipment that includes wheelchairs, canes, walkers and crutches, Kenney said. She and other Rotarians plan to send DVD and video players to the community. They will bring the DVDs and video tapes, and it doesn't matter if the donated movies are in English.


In a visit to Guatemala in 2010, Rotarians helped a small rural school that had been damaged by a volcanic eruption and the subsequent flooding.


“There were no children at the school that day,” Kenney said. “But the word had spread, and the whole village poured out of their homes. They were very excited about our efforts to rebuild their school and provide school supplies.”


The clubs' donations provided about 15 boxes of supplies, and Kenney and other Rotarians were moved by the dedication of the parents, who prepared lunch for their children and their guests.


“These are such impoverished people,” Kenney said in 2010. “Even the gesture of providing a meal was significant for them.”


All the area Rotary clubs are involved in humanitarian projects throughout the world.


“But we rarely get to see what we've done,” Kenney said. “To find a project we could visit and get involved with and see the results first-hand was very exciting.”


Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard's education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001. He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.