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Rotary Seeks Funds for Matching Grant to Provide Water to Rural Communities

By Robin Loving

As expats living in the culturally rich community of San Miguel, we are fortunate if we have amigos that live in the campo—fortunate because we are thereby afforded a glimpse into what life is like for most Mexicans, which is in high contrast to our lives as we must have certain resources just to legally live here.

I know folks who live without running water and electricity, and I wonder how they do it. I remember when one woman applauded as the mayor brought a water pipeline to her community, one for all the community to share. I have been to these homes, and I still wonder how they do it.

Thanks to the local Rotary Clubs, some of our campesino friends—those who bring us things like firewood and produce on the backs of the donkeys used to transport them from the campo— now have a source of water to drink; but there are many more who still sip from putrid creeks and get rotten teeth and disease from doing so. Enter Rotary, once again.

Rotary is seeking matching funds for a USD$200,000 grant to provide drinking water to more communities in our area because the aquafer is so badly depleted that wells have run dry. Come to Rotary Tuesday, September 19, when water champion Lee Carter will present information about the largest project in this district, one that has brought more than USD$650,000 to our area since 2008. The meeting will be at 12:30pm at Hotel Misión, Salida a Queretaro 1, free and in English.

“Donations provide alternatives to drinking water with high levels of arsenic and fluoride,” said Carter. “We have successfully implemented 18 grants to help communities build 1,101 rainwater harvesting systems in 54 communities in San Miguel and surrounding areas where the water crisis is worst,” continued Carter. “The water they now have is safe for cooking and drinking,” he continued.

“This is a sustainability project that includes education, training, and measureable success,” said Carter. “The result is self-reliance, self-determination, and personal responsibility—transformative qualities,” he continued. “And, there is room for volunteerism on this and exciting new initiatives like dry-composting toilets,” concluded Carter.

To date, 70 percent of the funding has come through Rotary. The rest has come through partners and individuals who want to be part of the solution to the water crisis. Key among those have been the San Miguel Community Foundation, the Lotus Foundation, and Amigas de Vivienda.

In the next phase, with the help of the match needed, 280 more cisterns will be in place by the end of 2018. Donations of USD$100 are significant as they attract the good faith of government officials who are most disposed to participate when there are public/private partnerships. Materials for a cistern cost USD$450, and all donations to the current project will be matched by Rotary. To date, funds have come from Canada, Korea, Mexico, and the US.

Carter holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Darden School at the University of Virginia. He has lived in Mexico for more than 30 years. When not saving campesinos from water crises, he runs his local and international companies, Colors and the Lee Carter Company, an exporter of Mexican artesania. He is the cofounder of Hospice San Miguel. With Rotary, he is vice president of Community Service and former treasurer, as well as former president.

Rotary is where neighbors, friends, and problem-solvers share ideas, join leaders and take action to create lasting change. For more information, contact President Fred Collins at and see


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