World Community Service Reports

Healthy Start Program in Guatemala

The World Service Committee is pleased to report continuing support of the Rotary/Agros International Healthy Start program in Guatemala.  Our Club first participated in this program in its inaugural year during 2020.  We joined 11 other clubs from Washington, California, Colorado, Guatemala, and China.  An interesting fact is this is the first project that a China club (Macau) was permitted to participate in outside of China.  Club 29 has committed to continue participation in the next phase of the program which should be funded in 2022.

The Healthy Start program is operating in the Ixil region of Guatemala which was severely disadvantaged during the decades long Guatemalan civil war.   The program is focused on reducing chronic child malnutrition.  The primary strategies of the program include:

  • Establish a network of Community Health Brigadistas to actively work in the villages to provide and promote health measures
  • Provide prenatal care to pregnant women and early childhood care to children, such as immunizations
  • Provide nutritional supplements in villages where food scarcity occurs
  • Increase food production from local gardens for both local use and for agribusiness

The Healthy Start program was off to a successful start when two severe hurricanes hit Central American within two weeks in November 2020. Agros had team members on the ground assisting the Healthy Start communities recover from the damage, and to their credit were able to achieve the program’s first year goals despite the hurricane setbacks.

The impact of the program has gained attention in Guatemala and Agros was recently invited by the Guatemalan government to present the details of Healthy Start to key members of Congress and the Ministry of Food Security and Nutrition. Partnership and support of the government is a key long-term strategy to increasing the scale of the program and impact across the impoverished regions of the country.

The Rotary partners, including our club, are committed to expanding the number of Rotary Clubs participating in Healthy Start in this next phase, and Agros is also aggressively fundraising to match the contributions made by Rotary. It is a true partnership and a program of impact. Club 29 and our Rotary District are making a difference for the people of the Ixil region.

When the day comes that COVID is manageable, Agros is planning a trip to Guatemala to visit the Healthy Start villages and we will certainly be invited to participate.

Thank you for your support of the Club 29 Foundation and the Rotary Foundation that makes this program possible!

Do not hesitate to contact me or any member of the World Service committee for additional information.
Matt Bown



Mercy Ships: Opening Health Opportunities for All

A Rotary project becomes a passion to support healthcare in Africa

Like many things I have discovered in life, one phone call, opening one door, asking one question, or reading one email can lead you somewhere you never thought you’d be.  That is how I learned about a project that has since become a passion for me.  That project is Mercy Ships.

Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals, communities, and nations by using hospital ships to deliver free world-class healthcare services to people in need.  These services include training and educating local healthcare providers and doctors and nurses as well as providing a wide range of surgeries and follow-up care for sustainable development.

Mercy Ships has worked in more than 55 developing countries, providing services valued at more than $1.65 billion, and treating more than 2.8 million people with just one ship.  The ship is crewed by volunteers from over 50 nations, averaging 1,300 volunteers each year.  Professionals ranging from surgeons, dentists, and nurses to cooks, engineers, teachers and cleaning crews donate their time and skills.

A second Mercy Ship, Global Mercy, has been partially funded by the largest Rotary International Grant ever, totaling $1,126,000.  Paul Denton, chair of District 1260 Global Grants committee in the U.K. said, “The Rotary grant galvanized the generosity of Rotary, truly capturing imaginations and hearts.  31 Rotary Districts, 340-plus clubs across the U.K. and the world from Oklahoma to Seoul all found a common cause to support Mercy Ships and shows that ROTARY OPENS OPPORTUNITIES.”

Building this ship involved over 800 workers 24 hours a day for nearly 4 years. It is over 570’ long, 93’ wide, weighs 37,000 tons, and is 12 decks high.  It contains new operating theaters, infection isolation rooms, post-operative recovery rooms, and intensive care beds.  Also included are training/education rooms and conference rooms for local healthcare professionals and staff as well as housing for patients, their families, and volunteers.  Surgeries performed will include tumor removal, cleft lip and palate repair and cataract removal.

Imagine a mother not being able to see her new born child.  This is exactly what happened to Adama, a young mother from Guinea.  During pregnancy, Adama developed cataracts and by the time she gave birth to twins, she was completely blind.  Unable to access the simple surgery that would restore her sight, Adama would never see her new family.  It was not until Adama received a free, 20-minute procedure from Mercy Ships that she was able to see her children’s faces for the first time.  Mercy Ships made such a difference in her life and that of her children.


Our Rotary Club 29 has partnered to make these types of opportunities a reality. Our club donated $5,000 toward this Global Grant which was matched by an additional $20,000 from the District. More importantly we have built strong partnerships with Mercy Ships and other Rotary Clubs that will ensure this work continues.

I agree that Rotary opens opportunities.  Each donation you make; every time you volunteer, can be your opportunity to make a difference in the world.

Ron Rocke

Rotary Club 29 World Service Committee member

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Club 29 Joins in Worldwide Rotary Partnership with ShelterBox to Deliver Disaster Relief
by Matt Bown

Club 29 recently joined over 500 Rotary Clubs worldwide to support the disaster relief mission of ShelterBox.  ShelterBox is a relief organization started by a Rotary Club in Cornwall, England in 2000 and in 2012, Rotary International adopted ShelterBox as its first Project Partner and remains its only disaster relief charity partner.

Facts about ShelterBox:

  • Rapid response to disasters on a worldwide basis
  • In 2020, aid was provided in 13 countries impacting over 200,000 people
  • For over 20 years, aid has been provided in more than 100 countries impacting over 1.7 million people
  • Aid is provided for individuals impacted by natural disasters as well as conflict

What ShelterBox Does:

  • Delivers essential aid in the aftermath of a disaster
  • ShelterBoxes contain family sized tents and necessary survival supplies tailored to local conditions
  • ShelterKits contain essential tools needed to start repairing and rebuilding homes





ShelterBox responds to disasters with highly trained ShelterBox Response Teams and is supported by a network of volunteers.  These teams will travel by foot, boat or helicopter to provide aid where it is needed.




Club 29 and ShelterBox

  • Why has Club 29 has partnered to be a Gold Level Hero with ShelterBox?

During November of 2020, in the midst of the COVID pandemic, Central America was hit by two devastating hurricanes (Eta and Iota) within a two-week period.  Our Club was already participating in a Rotary Global Grant project in Guatemala to prevent and reduce chronic child malnutrition.  When the hurricanes hit this area, the Club’s World Service Committee began looking for ways to help and learned of ShelterBox as the go-to Rotary partner for international disaster relief.


  • Can Club 29 members become more involved?

For Club members able and desirous of participating in disaster relief, ShelterBox has a volunteer process to serve on ShelterBox Response Teams.  This is a significant commitment that offers both huge responsibilities and is incredibly rewarding.  ShelterBox also has other volunteer opportunities related to fundraising and communications.  More information can be found at:

Club 29 continues to impact our local community and our world neighbors with significant and important projects.  Joining the Rotary partnership with ShelterBox once again extends our impact for good and we are excited to be involved!

Matt Bown

Rotary Club 29 World Service Committee member

Take Action

  • Learn more about ShelterBox by visiting its website and watching this video.
  • Explore Rotary’s involvement in disaster response and promoting peace around the world.
  • Contact Matt Bown at to learn more about our club’s partnership with ShelterBox and our work in Guatemala.
  • Attend your Club’s next World Service Committee meeting to learn other ways to get involved. Contact Steve Shepelwich at for info.








Malaria Partners International – Striving to elimnate Malaria Worldwide
by Clayton Taylor



With Polio “Nearly” eradicated, we now strive to tackle the next preventable worldwide killer.

Malaria is seen by many as the next worst, widespread disease that is impacting the world – after polio.  Malaria is a mosquito borne blood disease.  In simplest terms, it has the most severe impact on children 5-years old and younger, as millions of the youngest children have died.  For adults, it has the impact of a very bad case of the flu, thus resulting in mothers who cannot care for their children and fathers who cannot go to work to pay for food for their families.

To address this head on, Malaria Partners International (MPI) was created by Rotarians to fight Malaria on a worldwide scale. Founded by Seattle Rotary Club 4, MPI now involves more than 40 other Rotary Clubs and significant partners in the international health field. MPI’s efforts first focused on the African country of Zambia and are now spreading to other African countries including The Gambia, Tanzania, and Uganda.

MPI on the Ground

The MPI approach to attacking malaria is unique, using lessons learned from polio eradication programs to trace and target hotspots of malaria outbreaks. The Zambia project has focused directly on the training and equipping of over 1,250 village health care workers who can test for and treat malaria at the local level, impacting over 625,000 local residents.

Another major aspect of the Zambia project is the effective partnership with the national government in the work.  This government involvement provides the long-term sustainability that will make this effort endure through the years.

Club 29 in Partnership

Malaria Partners International “MPI” reached out to Oklahoma City Rotary Club 29 several years ago because of our club size and reputation for international service.  Again, that reputation points back to the leadership and hard work of our departed friend and fellow Rotarian Bob Medley.  Bob re-established our club as a leader in international service and for that we will always be appreciative.

With the recommendation of our World Service Committee, our club has partnered with MPI and other Rotary Clubs in the Zambia project. Our $10,000 investment leveraged an additional $25,000 contribution from the District.

Our Club members were invited to join a group from MPI to visit the Zambia project in October of 2019 — pre-COVID.  I made the trip and am forever changed.

As a result of this trip, I was invited to join the MPI Board of Directors. I have now served on the Board for nearly one year. I continue to be amazed by their efforts to fight Malaria.

Club 29 Taking the Lead in Uganda

Most recently I was asked if Club 29 would take the lead on MPI’s efforts for a major Rotary Grant to expand the Zambia-model into Uganda — to train and equip village health care workers to fight Malaria at the local level.  I am excited to report that our World Service Committee and Club Leadership have embraced this effort.  It will be the first in time in modern club history that we have been the lead club on a major international grant effort like this.

The Uganda Malaria project is still being finalized but looks to be in the $800,000 to $1 million range for total funding.  Because MPI has developed long-term working relationships with other groups, the majority of this funding will not have to come from Rotary.  We can reasonably expect major funding from the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative; World Vision; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; The Rotary International Foundation; as well as a range of U.S. and International Rotary Clubs through their local foundations.

As the sponsor of the major grant, our Club will lead the fundraising efforts with a goal to raise donations in the range of $100 – $125,000 from other Rotary Clubs. These Rotary funds will then be matched by some or all of the groups outlined above.  Our club will administer the funds for the project — paying the bills as receipts are received – and ensuring proper reporting and accountability.

Come Join in the Work

Thank you Club 29 for stepping up to take the lead on this major grant to fight Malaria in Uganda. I am continually reminded why I am proud to be a member of our club.  If you are interested in becoming involved, please let us know.  And know that MPI is planning to put together a trip to visit the Uganda project as soon as we have the all clear to travel again, post-COVID.

Clayton Taylor

Club 29 Past President and MPI Board Member


Take Action

  • Learn more about Malaria Partners International by visiting its website and watching this video.
  • Explore Rotary’s involvement in fighting disease and maternal and child health around the world.
  • Contact Clayton Taylor at to learn more about our Club’s partnership with Malaria Partners International and our work in Zambia and Uganda.
  • Attend your Club’s next World Service Committee meeting to learn other ways to get involved. Contact Steve Shepelwich at for info.










1 Comments for : World Community Service Reports
    • Ron Rocke
    • March 24, 2021

    Great article Clayton!!!

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