Our speaker, John Van Laar  joined Rotary in 1990 when he became a member of the Rotary Club of Thornbury/Clarksburg. He was their president in 1996-1997 and he served as District Governor for district 6330 in 2003-2004. He is currently a member of the Rotary club of Collingwood/South Georgian Bay in district 7010.

John and his wife Cora visited Cebu Guadalupe, in the Philippines, his wife's home town. John wanted to see what projects were needed. He saw people scavenging for food and for plastic and metal in the City dump. The plastic and metal were sold  for a small amount of money. He saw 3 girls laughing and having fun at the dump as they had found some food. Many children are taken out of school to help the family scavenge for things that can be sold.

John decided he needed to do something to help, and got a matching grant together with another Rotary club. At the time the grant came through, the city of Cebu closed the dump, leaving many people without food. With the matching grant 2 feeding stations were set up. During the first year of operation, 4,000 people were fed and serious cases of malnutrition were dramatically reduced. A weekly medical clinic was also opened. 50% of sick people here will die without even seeing a doctor. The clinic is run by English Nuns.

44% of Philippinos live on less than $1 per day, and 50% of the country live on less than $2 per day. 10% of children will never got to school, and only 10% of high school graduates will go on to college. 


Back to School is a program run by the Rotary Club of Collingwood/South Georgian Bay and district 3860 in the Philipines. The project recognizes that every child counts and that every child should have the opportunity to Live, Love, Learn and Laugh. Pupils who get schooling have a feeling of dignity.

Mentors are a part of this project. The mentors are trained with the teachers. They work with the Rotarians, the children and the childrens'  families . They especially work hard to help the families understand the importance of sending their children to school.  In the 1st year there were 259 students in the program, now there are 1,000.  A donation of $50 will help poverty-stricken children attend school with necessary items such as a school uniform, shoes and school supplies. Donations also help fund the shcool programs that benefit the children.

 In addition, an ALS (Alternative Learning System) was put together. This helps children outside of school, teaching them such things as computers to help them get a job.

For more information on the Back to School program, or to sponsor a child through a $50 donation  go to www.backtoschoolproject.org .

John left us with two thoughts:

1.We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

2. What you do today for yourself dies with you, but what you do for others will continue to live on.