One in five Nicaraguan children suffers from chronic malnutrition, a grim statistic that helps to explain the travel itinerary of seven young Rotarians from Kamloops.
Katrina Lund and six other members of the Kamloops Fusion Rotaract Club will travel in April to Casa Materna, a clinic in Santa Rosa in the Matagalpa region dedicated to reducing maternal and infant death rates.
The group plans to spend a week or more on community development projects in support of good nutrition and health. About 200 women annually from the impoverished rural hills of the Central American country rely on the clinic.
"They stay at the maternity clinic until they and their children are properly nourished," said Lund, international service chairwoman with the club.
In support of the project, they're collecting donations of infant clothing — for newborns up to 24 months — at least as much as they can take as luggage. The women who use the clinic have little if any money and typically have no clothing for their newborns, Lund said.
"Our club is covering the cost for the extra luggage fees and we're having some fundraising dinners, too."
Baby clothes can be dropped off a Hotel 540, where Lund works in sales and catering, Ladies Only Fitness or at Kamloops Kids, located in the former Ralph Bell elementary school in Valleyview.
Penny Pinchers, Mulberry Bush Kids Stuff and Mommy & Me Boutique have donated clothes for the project as well.
The group has raised $5,000 over the past two years, which will help cover the cost of a fence to surround the garden where much of the clinic's food supply is grown. Nutritional instruction is part of clinic's care program and food sustainability is a fundamental concern.
"We've already sent funds down to Nicaragua, which we're using for some of the projects we're doing with them," Lund said.
Fusion Rotaract hasn't taken on an international project in five years, Lund said. After joining the club last year, she asked her cousin — Carroll Airey, a Houston, B.C., schoolteacher and founder of the Nicaraguan development organization Take a Stand for Kids — about opportunities in the region. Airey is assisting the group with travel arrangements.
The club is sponsored by the Kamloops Aurora Rotary Club, which has helped the group to obtain grants for the Nicaragua project.