Northfield Rotary Dollars at Work in Togo

June 17, 2009

This nice followup just arrived from Charlie Cogan. You’ll be pleased to see how your contributions are at work in the world. Ed

Here is a recent photo from the worksite in Bassar, Togo, where our club has already worked with other Rotary Clubs (Evanston, IL; Charles City, IA; Upper Darby, PA) to raise over $5,500 to repair a school damaged by storms a few years ago. Bassar is a small city in central Togo (West Africa) and our connection originally came from a Peace Corps Volunteer, Jeff Finkelman, who worked with a fellow volunteer (Vonetta Robinson) and the local Rotary Community Development Corps (proto-Rotary club) to help the Central School in Bassar, where two of the main buildings lost their roofs during a violent storm in 2006.

One of the two buildings was repaired last year and this work is being done on the second, larger building. For a very nice YouTube segment on this project, please go to the following link and you’ll see Jeff and Vonetta speak about the project and also hear some nice African music and see lots and lots of photos from the work done on the first building:

The total cost for this project is $7,500 and more than $5,500 has already been raised, with the Rotary Club of Upper Darby in Pennsylvania already verbally committed to making a contribution in the near future, though the exact amount will depend on how successful their spring fundraiser turns out to be.

This is a club-to-club project. The Rotary Foundation does not pay for construction so no matching grants have been used, but as Jeff and Vonetta make clear on their YouTube video, this school is very important to the community and the repair and improvements (to make the two buildings more storm-proof) and new desks and chairs and blackboards will greatly improve academic opportunities for young kids in Bassar. Between the two building, Rotarians and the family and friends of the Peace Corps volunteers will have raised more than $14,000 for these school repairs. In addition, the Rotary Community Development Corps of Bassar raised over $2,000 for the repairs to the second building through a variety of fund-raising activities, including a car wash/motorcycle wash and other community efforts. This project has united many people for the benefit of local children.

For more information, please contact Charlie Cogan (also a former Peace Corps volunteer from Togo, many years ago, and our club’s coordinator for this project. Email: This project was chosen and supported by the Northfield Rotary Club’s World Community Service committee, chaired by Mark Abbott. If you are interested in serving on this committee, please let President-Elect Rick Estenson know ASAP. If you are not a Rotarian and would like to know more about Rotary’s international outreach, we’d love to tell you more.