Fourteen people from Parksville Qualicum Beach headed south on Monday (Sept. 15) to make the world a more livable place for at least one family in Vicente Guererro, a small Mexican village in the San Quintin Valley.
The locals are part of a larger group of 17 which includes many Rotarians from the Parksville AM club, one Rotarian from the Qualicum Beach Sunrise club, five spouses and a few friends from out of town. Through a Canadian organization called Live Different, they will build and furnish a 500 square foot home in just over one week for a family of four in-need. Additionally, the group will supply one months worth of food for the family and deliver a number of personal hygiene kits.
Parksville’s Diana Matsuda is one of the Rotarians currently on the Live Different Humanitarian Trip.
Matsuda said she was both “excited” and “nervous” about the voyage.
“I’ve never done anything like this,” she told The NEWS Thursday morning, just days before departing.
Matsuda said one of the reasons she opted to volunteer for the project is because she feels “so lucky.”
“We have a Rotarian in our club — and I’ve never forgotten this moment — he was talking about an (international) project and he said ‘Look at it this way, just by being born here we’ve already won the lottery.'”
Matsuda said she thinks about that moment all the time.
“We have so much by comparison,” she said. “It (this project) is just a way of giving back.”
The Live Different Humanitarian Trip is spearheaded by Parksville AM Rotarian Bill Rawlins, a former Ballenas principal who has turned 100 per cent of his efforts to international aid.
Rawlins said over the last decade he’s taken 35 trips abroad to help build schools, houses and communities in developing parts of the world.
Rawlins explains Live Different is an organization that provides people the opportunity to volunteer in humanitarian relief projects by bringing practical assistance to those living in extreme poverty. He said the program allows volunteers to see first-hand how two-thirds of the world lives, expands their worldview and allows them the opportunity to become educators on world poverty by sharing their experiences.
Rawlins remembers the first humanitarian aid project he took part in, at the insistence of his daughter in 2006.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” he recalled. “Our project that year was bringing a waterline into a village where people were dying from parasites.”
He said the experience changed his whole life.
“My daughter and I both came back (to Canada) with the realization that there is a lot more to life than the consumerism and materialism we grew up with,” he said. “We came back with a changed mind and changed heart.”
The group will return from the Live Different Humanitarian Trip September 24.
They will be posting pictures of their journey along the way.
For more information or to keep up with their trip visit www.parksvilleamrotary.org.