Village Hopecore International 

Village Hopecore International helps to alleviate poverty and halt the spread of HIV/AIDS in the village of Chogoria, Kenya by making microloans to family-based enterprises. But money alone does not disrupt the cycle of poverty. The organization provides business education, professional mentoring, personal development counseling, and HIV/AIDS prevention education to all their loan groups.

There are several criteria for judging the success of this program. The primary question is "Are people's lives getting better?" With improved quality of food, water on their property, private schools for the children, and meaningful employment, nearly 2000 individuals have raised their quality of life exponentially.

ImageThis program can be deemed a success based on the repayment rates, which are remarkable: 90% of all loans are repaid on time. That figure improves to 100% on groups that have applied for and received second and third rounds of funding.

When it became apparent that the very high rate of malaria in the village was impacting group members ability to achieve their goals, Village Hopecore planned a comprehensive malaria mitigation program. With volunteer medical students from Stanford, and with treated mosquito nets purchased with donated funds, we hope to significantly reduce the incidence of malaria in Chogoria.

The Rotary Club of Sebastopol's support has been instrumental in the success of Village Hopecore:

  • Three club members contributed a total of $7,500 to train and fund the Mwicki Group in 2004
  • Sebastopol Rotary Club contributed $7,500 in 2005 initially to fund a second loan group, but agreed to reallocate it for the purchase of a used Land Rover at VHI's request
  • In 2007, the club and Healdsburg Rotary Club each contributed $6,000 in partnership with the Meru (Kenya) Rotary Club and secured District and Rotary Foundation matching grants that raised $42,000 that funded the training and loans for 7 more loan groups with 84 total individuals.
  • In 2009 Sebastopol Rotary contributed $2,500 to "replace" dollars "lost" due to shifting exchange rates from the $42,000 matching grant awarded in 2007.
  • Two members of Sebastopol Rotary Club, Kent Seegmiller and Steve Beck, sit on the Board of Directors of VHI.
  • In addition, the Rotary Club of Healdsburg contributed $5,000 toward the purchase of anti-malarial bednets in 2008.


The project will cost a total of $32,355. The club share is $9,144. For more information about Village Hopecore, please visit 

2010/2011 Update: Sebastopol Rotary has committed $2,000 towards the replacement cost of an aging All Wheel Drive vehicle that will allow them to better serve those beyond walking distance.

Chidamoyo Christian Hospital 

The Chidamoyo Christian Hospital provides the only healthcare access to a wide area of rural Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has been in political turmoil and government services are nearly non-existent. The hospital reached out to us for emergency help due to persistent funding problems. Our club provided funds of $1,500 in 2009 and $10,000 in 2008 for the cost of badly needed medical supplies. The last shipment container arrived just in time to help them treat a Cholera epidemic in their region. Our club is in the process of applying for a Rotary District & Foundation Matching Grant that would address the longer term needs of the hospital.

2010/2011 Update: This year another container was purchased and filled with more supplies, ranging from medical equipment to soccer balls. Visiting club members determined that they also needed an Emergency Generator. Our club raised $5,318 at our Lobster Feed, and some press coverage and efforts by our members generated another $5,300 for the generator. The generator was operational on February 7th 2011.

Nkubu Victory Academy 

The Rotary Clubs of Sebastopol and Meru, Kenya jointly sought and received a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant to equip the computer lab at this private school located on donated land 4.2 miles outside the medium-size market of Nkubu, about 3 1/2 hours NE of the capitol city of Nairobi. Nkubu Victory Academy was established in 2003 to offer primary education (grades K-8) at an affordable quality instruction in smaller class sizes than is available at most public schools. The school is supported and governed by the Victory House Foundation Based Organization. Its mission statement reads, "To provide quality and holistic education and to uplift orphans and vulnerable children through education, care activities, and life skills". About half of the school's 200 enrollees are orphans and vulnerable children, having lost one or both parents to AIDS and being left with no adult financially capable of caring for them. These children reside on the campus, while the rest of the student body commutes from up to an hour away by mini-bus or on foot.

The school included space for a computer lab when it built the new stone and mortar, two-story dormitory for girls, but lacked the funds to equip it. The Rotary Foundation grant, which included base funds from both Rotary Clubs, which were matched by their District and the Rotary Foundation, provided $12,400 to purchase 10 computers, a printer, computer furniture, telephone connections, setup of the equipment and everything else needed to link the computers together and provide an Internet connection.

Within two months of receiving the grant, the computers were being installed and ready for use when the fall term began. During the past year, classes have been held on weekends, evening, and during school breaks to let parents and other adults, as well as students who have completed the 8th grade and left Nkubu Victory Academy become computer literate.

Noting that the school lacked modern textbooks in good condition or teaching charts that are standard in US schools, Rotarian Steve Beck approached the club-sponsored Interact Clubs encouraging them to raise funds for this purpose. Brookhaven Interact contributed $150 (one third of what they earned during the year) to the delight of the headmaster and students. In 2009 they are being challenged to make another contribution from a donor who has pledged to match their contribution.

2010/2011 Update: Our club has committed $2,000 towards this project hoping to fund it over a period of 3 years. Three of our school Interact Clubs at Brookhaven Middle, Analy High, and Orchard View are also raising funds for the library. 

LHAF: Open Heart Program 

Lotus Humanitarian Aid Foundation (LHAF) is a non-profit charitable organization. LHAF seeks to enhance the basic needs and well being of the

 poorest families and communities in Vietnam. LHAF works directly with their beneficiaries in Viet Nam and in cooperation with local governments in defining and prioritizing LHAF projects related to health and education. 

Post Surgery Photo of Tham
The Open Heart Program helps children from poor families who have congenital or acquired heart disease get treatment and life-saving operations needed to lead healthy, happy, and productive lives. The Open Heart Program is implemented in Ha Tinh Province because no other domestic or international organization is providing this kind of help to in this province. 


The cost of an open heart surgery in Viet Nam currently ranges from $1,500 to 3,200 USD. LHAF typically funds $500 to 1,000 USD for surgery costs and helps identify funding from cooperative organizations.

The Rotary Club of Sebastopol has supported the Open Heart Program with two rounds of funding in 2007 and 2008 totaling over $14,000. This amount has helped to fund 31 successful surgeries to date. For more information about LHAF please visit

2010/2011 Update: This year we are providing $2,000 towards this worthwhile project. Last year's contribution of $2,000 helped pay for for 7 surgeries.




Adopt a Village Project in Biranga-Maundo Village, Tororo District, Uganda 

ImageThis project is our club's major matching grants project for 2007 - 2008. We funded $8,554, matched by District 5130, and the Rotary Foundation added $12,891 for a project totaling $30,079. This money was use to dig a borehole and purchase a pump that will provide a source of clean water for the villagers. We will educate them with techniques for maintaining its purity. Insecticide treated mosquito nets and hardware to properly hang the nets will be given to families to prevent disease transfer. Kerosene lamps will be given to replace paraffin candles that produced smoke and poor lighting. Cows will also be given along with education in single home-based dairy farming (zero grazing) techniques including fertilizer for food crops as a by product. The elements of this project are to provide the people of the village with basic tools to lift themselves out of poverty. 

Two members of our club visited the project in September, 2007 to see the changes being made in the lives of the villagers. The clean water source made an immediate change in the occurrence of water borne disease and diarrhea amongst the villagers. The insecticide treated mosquito nets dramatically decreased the incidence of malaria and is saving the lives of children. The only element remaining is the distribution of the heifers to several families. This was completed after our visiting team left. This project was completed in 2008. 

Phase Two-Adopt a Village Project in Biranga-Maundo Village, Torroro District, Uganda 

With the completion of the first phase, a second phase matching grant was put together that enhances the process of lifting the village out of poverty with additional, sustainable help in the form of:


  • Clean water and latrines for the local primary school to improve health and sanitation.
  • A Revolving Loan Fund to provide opportunities to for the villagers to purchase animals or start small businesses.
  • Rocket stoves to reduce the amount of wood burned and to reduce respiratory distress among the women and small children.
  • Fruit trees to boost house hold incomes and improve diets, especially for the children.
  • Furniture for the local nursery school to improve the learning experience for young children.


The project will cost a total of $32,355. The club share is $9,144.

2010/2011 Update: In February 2011, the Sebastopol Rotary club installed a solar powered pump on the existing well, easing the burden of hand pumping. Our club contributed $3,900 to this effort. A member of our club also donated 49 pounds of Heirloom seeds that were distributed throughpout the area when our members visited the village.


Adopt a Village Project in Chapra Village, Bangladesh 

This project will benefit the 7,00 villagers in Chapra Village, District Dhaka in Bangladesh. The project will be implemented over a period of twelve months in 2010/2011. The host club is the Rotary Club of Shantigar which will administer project funds, source equipment, and oversee the project implementation. The Sebastolpol Rotary contributed $8,600, matching grants from District 5130 and the Rotary Foundation, along with $1,000 from the Santa Rosa Rotary club bring total donations to $38,350. 

The project encompasses the following:

  • Health:
    • Purchase of 2,200 insecticide treated mosquito nets, along with mosquito abatement education
    • The establishment of a health dispensary
    • Provide 30 sanitary latrines along with education
    • Provide 10 tube wells for clean water at various locations along with education
    • Provide black goats to 120 families along with training in basic priciples of livestock mangagement. Basic Goat shelters also provided

    • Hunger:
      • Provide 25 selected families with newer seed varities to increase yields.
      • Provide 10 families with Rickshaw passenger carriers
      • Provide 10 families with Rickshaw goods carriers to improve transport of goods to other markets
      • Provide training for small businesses

      • Education:


        • Provide school supplies for drop-outs
        • Provide 40 benches for Primary School
        • Provide 5 tables, chairs, and fans
        • Provide cloth for 150 school dresses to encouarge girls to attend
        • Provide chalkboards and furniture for classrooms
        • Provide school supplies for 100 old men for education

          Vietnam Water Projects 
          From 2000 to 2002 our club led efforts to fund development of fresh water wells and installation of distribution lines and individual residence spigots in rural Vietnamese villages. Bob Cary invited Northern California Rotary Clubs to join us in raising a total of $64,000 to complete ten separate projects. Whatever was raised would be matched dollar for dollar by our partner, East Meets West Foundation. Clubs wishing to participate were asked to seek District Simplified Grants in addition to what they raised themselves, since these projects were not eligible for RI Matching Grants this year. 

          The Sebastopol Rotary Club provided $2,500 of its own money, and received a District Simplified Grant for $975, for a total contribution to the East Meets West Foundation of $3,475. Nine other clubs participated in raising a combined total, including Sebastopol's contribution, of $9,750, plus $6,975 in District Simplified Grants. The total came to $16,725. With East Meets West Foundation matching 100%, the grand total was $33,450.

          Daywa Afghan Widows Vocational School 

          This project in 2004 provided both commercial ovens and sewing machines to the Daywa Widows Training Center in Kabul, Afghanistan, to train 500 widows, living at a subsistence level, in marketable skills to create products badly needed in this war-torn country, In addition to teaching commercial baking and sewing, the school assists those with apparent entrepreneurial skills to establish their own commercial bakeries or clothing manufacturing firms, which, in turn, will employ the school's graduates. 

          This project, headed by Rotarian Russ Cunningham and his wife Shirlee, was developed with the assistance of the Hayward Sunset Rotary Club, a club of predominantly Afghan immigrants who have many contacts in Afghanistan. The in-country Rotary Partner is the Rotary Club of Kabul. 

          The Sebastopol Rotary contributed $6,080 with a 100% Matching Grant from District 5130. The Los Gatos Sunset Rotary contributed $1,000 with $708 from District 5170. And, the Delhi Mid-town Rotary Club, District 3010 in India, contributed $1,000. RI approved a matching grant for $10,328, thereby completing the funding needed. Subsequent to filing the RI Matching Grant application, the oven manufacturer, Merrill Bevan of Woodstone Pizza, agreed to donate $995 of used equipment to go with the ovens. 

          A 40 ft container was sent that not only contained the 12 commercial sewing machines but also cabinets for them so that each will have a free-standing workstation. Also sent were two generators with transmission systems built by the Club's two Russ's so that all the sewing machines could be run off of them. In addition we shipped the pizza oven and all of its equipment (5,000 lbs). Also shipped were 41 sewing machines (home-type); 11 hospital beds; a wheel chair; an exam table; 16 heart monitors; and many other miscellaneous supplies donated by Palm Drive Hospital. Total value for the shipment ended up being close to $200,000. 

          Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: 
          Paso Ancho After School Program 

          This is part of an ongoing cooperative effort between Sebastopol Rotary and the Puerto Vallarta South Rotary Club that began 21 years ago when we helped construct the Paso Ancho School. One of our members Mario Ramos, an educator originally from there, is spening half a year there to help start an After School and Evening Enrichment Program. Our club has committed $3,500 in 2010/2011 for the purchase of computers and other equipment. 

          Programma des Beca 

          This is an ongoing partnership with the Rotary Club of Puerto Vallarta Sur, Mexico, which provides scholarship support to low-income students desiring to continue their education beyond the sixth grade. During the 2008/09 academic year, twelve Sebastopol Rotarians contributed $4,600 for thirteen (13) scholarships. Their support helps to pay for required school uniforms, books and school supplies to enable the students to continue their academics. 

          Community Kitchen/Community Hall 

          The Rotary Club of Puerto Vallarta Sur, Mexico, initiated a weekly feeding program for 150 - 200 women and children living near the community dump, and invited the Sebastopol Rotary Club to be their partner. In 2002 the club allocated $1,000 to equip the kitchen in the building constructed by local Rotarians. District 5130 committed to match this amount. An application to the RI Foundation was resubmitted earlier that year for a matching grant. Now that the building is completed, it will serve as a place for mothers to learn better hygiene and health and food preparation methods. It will also serve as an activity center for the children. Before the building was in place, Puerto Vallarta Rotarians discovered that the one hour of attention the children received on feeding day was as important as the healthy meal.