A fellow Rotarian in Cheshire for ten years, Dr. Samuel Brown, who is also a retired college library director, combines his passion for literacy and his personal charitable goals in his support of Project Amigo. The charity enables poor children in Colima, Mexico to achieve their highest potential by providing educational opportunities, material support, enrichment activities, as well as medical and dental services. In addition, Project Amigo facilitates partnerships between North American and Mexican Rotary Clubs to sponsor projects which benefit Mexican children and their families. These projects include community development, the distribution of books, and the installation of libraries, computer labs, and clean water systems in rural schools.
Project Amigo gratefully accepts donations of useful items, such as school supplies and good used children’s clothes, and distributes them directly to needy children, as well as group homes. In fact, each year Project Amigo and the Colima Rotary Club host a Christmas Party for hundreds of poor children at which they receive a new set of clothes and shoes, and a small toy. Later i n February, the children who attend school get to spend a day at the beach. With a strong emphasis on school enrollment, other outings include the State Fair and local museums.
The cost of attending junior high and high school are beyond the means of most rural families. Without scholarships, schooling for the children served by Project Amigo would likely terminate in sixth grade, resulting in menial jobs and a life of grinding poverty. Through the generosity of sponsors and specific donations to the Project Amigo Scholarship Fund, a future can be provided to these children, one in which they can work with their minds, not their backs.
Another opportunity to serve which is available through Project Amigo is called the Volunteer Work Week in which volunteers from various Rotary Clubs from around the world assist with a variety of projects. The assignments may simply include painting walls or murals, or assisting with children’s art projects. Emphasis is always placed on reading to the children, and meeting and working with Project Amigo scholarship students. There are even designated weeks for participation in special projects such as Literacy Week where the volunteers assemble and deliver mini-libraries and distribute books to hundreds of children. Preventive Dental Health week involves visiting schools to teach basic dental hygiene, including how to brush, and the distribution of tooth brushes.
Brown has been an active participant in many of these projects and enjoys helping children, especially with their reading. He encouraged his listeners to join the effort, indicating that the dates for upcoming work weeks can be found at www.projectamigo.org . In closing, Dr. Brown said, “I’m pleased to be involved in such a worthwhile organization, especially when I see how education can help pull an entire family out of poverty.”