As some of you are aware from reading my articles through the past quarter century, I have served throughout the world as a humanitarian both with Rotary International and with the Knights of Rizal. There have been good times and there have been those not so good. In any case great things have been accomplished. We have built and supported schools, libraries as well as medical clinics.
In the beginning of my travel it all seemed impossible but as you begin and eventually finish a project you begin to realize it isn’t as difficult as you told yourself it was. One thing leads to another and then project #2 is completed and so many people of need are happy.
In 1999 I joined the Lewiston/Auburn Rotary Club and almost immediately I was on a committee. Before I knew it I was recommending project and getting involved. I believe that changed my life. We embarked on our 1st international projects and that was the building of a library for the poor in the Philippines. I began raising books and storing them at the college in Auburn.
It took a year to raise 40,000 volumes and lots of money for shipping. During this time our own Jan Goddard, of the China area, was the District Governor for Rotary’s District #7790. Long story short, Jan financed, for the most part of our library project, resulting in a three-story building which eventually employed 22 people and librarians, housed all the books plus a computer room of 80 computers. It is now considered the largest true public library in the Philippines. It services the poor and all are allowed to use the facility. I, with my brother Knights in Silang Cavite, have been tending to the libraries ongoing needs. Dasmariñas Cavite Congressman Pidi Barzaga was also a major contributor to the library project. He is a very progressive leader of this community and supports all its needs. Without him there would be no library, such as the one built.
I wanted to mention here “Alliance for Smiles” and my love for this great organization. A few years ago I actually joined the Alliance for Smiles group in the beautiful hamlet of Santiago in the province of Isabela, Philippines. The group was there for several days and performed 127 cleft lip operations. For the parents of these children this was a blessing, saving their children from a life time of misery. I was very proud to be there with so many loving, caring humanitarians. The transformation is truly a wonderful thing. When you see something in your mailbox with the label, Alliance for Smiles, please read it and if you have a few dollars donate to this cause. It’s a wonderful charity which I know to be true.
Soon I will be returning to Asia to service some of my past projects and perhaps get involved in a few new ones. I will be looking for “School” and “Library” books. Library books for all ages and school books 1-12 grades. English, math, sciences, world history, etc. Also, I discovered a beautiful little church sitting high up in the mountains of Cagayan Province which was built by Korean Humanitarians. My wife and I attended a service one Sunday and discovered they had no Bibles. So, I decided to reach out to you to raise 50 Bibles. This would be a wonderful project for church and young people. Please make this happen for a part of the world which searches for God. I now have a truck so I can pick up things. I am considering clothing this time as some of these people have next to none, especially for the children.
The Silang Knights of Rizal and I have also undertaken the assistance of an orphanage built by a protestant pastor after the death of her husband who was also a pastor. The couple is from Pennsylvania, and on a missionary mission in the Philippines. When he passed away, pastor Ada Jensen decided to remain and started the “Mango House Orphanage”. My family and I along with the Knights of Rizal, which I joined in 2003.
So I guess I have been a part of my community there for 18 years now. We have accomplished much through the years and I hope others will carry the torch until this world becomes a better place for all. Time is growing short, for me being a 100 percent disabled veteran. With the help of my brothers, the Knights of Rizal of Silang, Cavite as well as Rotary, I am still getting the job done. I know others will come along and carry the torch to help all those who need the arm of others. This is how we find change and peace and how we find each other.
God be with you and please lend a hand if you can. Have a safe summer.
Gary Kennedy can be reached at (207) 458-2832.
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