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Rotarians laud Self Help program

By Staff | Nov 7, 2008

When you give a man a fish you feed him today. When you teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.

That could have very well been the theme of the program at Thursday’s Rotary program. Estherville Rotarian Mike Hamilton and District Governor Ailene Schacherer from the Spirit Lake Rotary told of their experiences with the program last December in Chinendaga, Nicaragua.

The Self Help program provides micro loans to people in Ghana and Nicaragua. Hamilton said 99.9 percent of the loans go to women.

Schacherer noted the industry and thrift of the villagers in Nicaragua. She said each farmer received a third acre and produces two corn crops a year, yielding enough to feed their family plus selling crops at market. She said Polaris Industries in Spirit Lake provided a tractor-trailer to haul medical supplies purchases by Rotary Club s in Dickinson and Emmet counties.

Despite the nightmare of having lived under Sandanista violence and experiencing poverty, the Nicaraguans are a happy people. Hamilton said all farming is done by hand, much as it was done hundreds of years ago. He said the villagers struggle to keep predators from getting to their livestock by even having to resort to special fencing.

Schacherer noted the remarkable growth in a school opened 10 years ago to 90 students.

Today, that same school has 1,800 attending, she said.