Rhinebeck Rotarian David Ives is the Executive Director of the Albert Schweitzer Institute, but that is just the tip of the iceberg for Ives’ many activities promoting worldwide peace and health. When he was 16, Ives took a trip to Latin America, where he was devastated by the poverty he encountered, and Ives determined to devote his life to helping others. After a stint in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua, he mixed an academic career with work for nonprofits, including Rotary International. A polio victim himself, he has volunteered to administer vaccine in Africa. He has worked with Rotary to organized peace forums in ten countries around the world. From his Nicaragua connection, he helped start the major commitment that Rhinebeck’s Interact Club has made to schools, pure water, and other improvements in rural León Province. A truly remarkable Rotarian.
RadioRotary interviews Rhinebeck Interact’s Grace Steele and Morgan Rakow, two of the 23 participants in the 2015 edition of that Interact Club’s “Nicaragua Project.” Interact is the high-school service organization sponsored by Rotary. Each year members of the Rhinebeck Interact Club, some adults (mostly Rhinebeck Rotarians), and some college students travel to the León department of Nicaragua where they work for a week on building and improving schools in impoverished rural villages. Under the supervision of a local foreman, the students bend rebar, mix cement, lay bricks, paint, and perform other basic construction tasks. Local workers continue the process. This is the second school that Rhinebeck Interact students have help build. Listen to these two enthusiastic girls tell about their work and their other Nicaraguan adventures.
Even before devastating earthquakes hit Nepal and surrounding territory in April and May of 2015, the plight of numerous children in that Himalayan nation was desperate. Many young children were being sold by their parents to work in Indian factories; young girls were often forced into prostitution. The Blue Butterfly Foundation, created by Lauren Yanks, has helped save over 2,000 children from trafficking, the use of force or fraud to cause humans to provide labor or sex against their will. In this radio interview, Ms. Yanks tells the powerful story of how the Blue Butterfly Foundation was founded and named. She urges listeners to become aware that their pursuit of evermore inexpensive items and food is contributing to this international tragedy.
The ongoing Vassar project for improving education, health, women’s economy, water purity, and forests in Chermaitre, Haiti, is described by the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Vassar-Haiti Project, Lila Meade, and Vassar student Sarah Oliver. Andrew and Lila Meade founded the project in 2001, partly in a response to the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. Its original goal was simply a lunch project at a school in poverty-stricken Chermaitre, but it has evolved greatly. So far more than 350 Vassar students have been involved. The project has also attracted the attention and considerable help from the Poughkeepsie-Arlington Rotary Club. One of the major sources of funding is an annual art show and auction featuring work by native Haitian artists.