Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day Ten, Happy Trails

By 1:30 we were in the Guadalajara International Airport waiting to board our return flight. We are to a person elevated, humbled and more determined than ever to promote world peace through understanding.

Day Ten Morning, The President of the United States

Those of us who woke and packed early had time for one last treat. A few of us overloaded a taxi and took of for a special visit.

Mike Pastryk of the Rotary Club of Cotati-Rohnert Park first visited Casa Kamami last year during the Festival of  Brotherhood. It is a group home for 20 girls who had been victims of sexual abuse by their families. Mike's first visit was a revelation for him. At that time the program to help these girls was strong, but the facility was not. There were electrical and plumbing problems. Programs like this do not receive public funding, so there were serious financial issues. Mike stepped in. He returned mid year with funds and plans. The electrical and plumbing issues were resolved. Mike made local contacts and is rousing support. The girls, seeing Mike (he is 6'7" and outgoing) and hearing he was a Rotary Club president misunderstood and thought he was President of the United States.  As far as they are concerned he might as well be.

Ellen Brown had been knitting scarves all winter for the girls, here they are selecting and trying them on as Ellen enjoys their enthusiasm.

The girls do their own housekeeping and go to school or work. The home is crowded but clean and pleasant. The girls receive therapy, have structure care for each other and are well cared for. The important thing is that they have security. A girl can remain at the home as long as she needs to.

Mike is an enthusiastic person. While he is happy to make daily life easier for the girls and staff of Casa Kamami, he is not stopping there.  Mike is in process of arranging a vacation opportunity for 12 of the girls. He is arranging a two week visit to Sonoma County as a short cultural experience.  He is soliciting funds and host families for those girls to have a great experience. To qualify, the girls have to earn the privledge by managing their personal goals and behaviors.  You go Mike! You go Girls!

Day Nine, An Evening of Celebration

Then entertainment

Our work finished and our travels almost at an end, we dressed in our finest and joined our hosts for an evening of food, drink, music and fellowship.

First socializing and photographs - here are Pati and Adrianne

Then drinks and opening plates
Then the entertainment, District Governor Guicho's family performed.
They are so talented!
The Two First Families of Districts 4150 and 5130
The evening went on to late with more music, more celebration, lots of friendly chatter and much love.

Day Nine, The Project Negotiations

In the Afternoon, all of the clubs from California met to review and collaborate on funding for the projects we had seen. Following the priorities of our Mexican hosts, we first worked out what funding we could for agreements from prior years that had not been completed. Next we talked about and worked on grant proposals for this year. hose grants were "matching grants". They are funded by monies from the partnering clubs in Mexico and California. The funds the clubs put in are augmented by matching monies from our Districts, then those monies are supplemented by partial matches from The Rotary Foundation.  The more expensive projects often require more than two clubs working together. After the matching grants, we discussed and made agreements about proposals that do not meet The Rotary Foundation's criteria for International Matching Grants. Those proposals would require clubs to work together with their own funds. While we were not able to fund everything we felt was worthy, we were able to fund an amazing number of projects.  Now when we return home we will seek out support for clubs who were not able to send representatives. It was inspiring and the fruition of a lot of planning and work.

Many thanks to our leadership for facilitating our sucesses.

Day Nine, an Afternoon of Freedom

For the early afternoon, we were free to make choices, some went on a bus to Telaquepacque to shop in that lovely town. There some world famous artists and designers host their retail outlets (like Bustamante). There are many wonderful artists, jewelers, clothiers and such. Also there are excellent restaurants. Our group typically meets at one that features an excellent all female mariachi band.

Then some others stayed local. A bit of rest, preparation for negotiations on projects in the afternoon or visits to local sites. Here is a world class museum 5 minutes walk from the hotel. Murals by Orozco grace the ceilings and walls, modern art and antiquities are featured in and around the grounds of the fabulous Cabanas.

Out and about there are ample opportunities  to meet new people and make new friends.

Day Nine, Breakfast Between 4150 and 5130

Every Festival about this time there is a District Wide meeting we are invited to attend. Most of the Mexican Clubs have representatives.
We sat mixed at tables, here on the right is Luis, a Rotarian from the Rotary Club of Coquimatlan, many of us had not seen Luis in the past two years.
Also at this table, seated on the left was Rotarian  Rafael Gonzalez of the Arandas club who was an Ambassadorial Scholar to the US in the early 70's. He went to school in Georgia and eventually Oaklhoma. He was so grateful and impressed with Rotary that he joined when he returned to Mexico and has been a Rotarian ever since.

The program was about Dia De Los Muertos as celebrated in Michoacan. The celebration, there more commonly known as the Noche de los Muertos, is complex and beautiful.  This alter honored Lic. Fernando Silva, a 93 year old Rotarian from Telquepaque, who died 3 months ago. He was a popular and influential Rotarian who hosted a luncheon for us two years ago when we visited. The respect and careing offered to Fernando, his club and family was touching.

Then the most amazing thing happened. Elvia Osnaya, traveling with us from the Rotary Club of Cloverdale, whose father was a Rotarian from Guadalajara, encountered a group of Rotarians who had known her father and been in his club. A bit surprised and emotionally moved, she stands here with her father's early friends.
Finally there were gift exchanges between our District Governors and their wives. A wonderful event.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Day Eight, Guadaljara at Night

Guadalajara is a treasure, the weather is usually in the 70's to 80's year round, there are always activities.  There are many cultural events and people for the most part are friendly and considerate.  Night life is active and inviting. Here are a few photos taken near our hotel.