Rotary Club Santa Barbara Helps Guatemala

Bringing Supplies, Housing, and Education to the Indigenous Community of Central America

<strong>TRAVEL MILES TO GIVE SMILES:</strong> Rotarian Steve Petersen presents a washing basin to a happy Guatemalan family.
Courtesy Photo

This month, the Santa Barbara Rotary Club is taking its message of goodwill one step further by traveling to Guatemala, where the club is partnering with an organization called Mayan Families to help feed, educate, and improve shelter for members of the Central American country’s indigenous community. The trip has become a regular tradition for many Rotarians, including Steve Petersen, who’s developed personal relationships in the region. “We have a little girl down there, Sonia, and her father died in the middle of building their house,” said Petersen, who raised the extra money needed to properly seal the home’s doors and windows. “We had one house we put a stove in, and the whole house was maybe 15 by 20 feet, and 15 people lived in that room,” said Petersen of another project. “It’s a very eye-opening experience.”

During the trip, the Rotary Club tries to address the most pressing of needs, and the water-purifying systems the Rotarians bring, which are designed to last a lifetime, are a particular game changer. “They have plenty of water,” said Petersen. “It’s just not good water.” They also provide stoves, school supplies, medical devices, vitamins, and even egg-laying chickens, three of which cost only $15, so every little bit of support helps.

“If anybody does want to make a donation, any amount is appreciated,” said Petersen, explaining that it all goes straight to Mayan Families. Those interested in donating can email


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