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Abbotsford Rotary Club goes on missions trip to Guatemala

Team of 11 to assist two charities to which they have donated funds
Judy Bergen of Abbotsford runs a charity called Love Guatemala, which the Abbotsford Rotary Club will be assisting on a trip to Guatemala from Feb. 7 to 16.

A group of 11 people from the Abbotsford Rotary Club leaves Friday, Feb. 7 for a trip to Guatemala, where they will assist in several projects, including wheelchair distribution.

The group’s trip runs until Feb. 16, and their work will include assisting the organization Love Guatemala Canada, which is run by Judy Bergen of Abbotsford.

Her work revolves around schools, food kitchens, home construction, women’s cooperatives and more.

The Rotary Club has donated about $25,000 to the charity in the last two years from funds raised at its annual Halloween Bash.

On a separate track, the club has funded wheelchairs for several programs, including one in Guatemala.

Over the past year, they teamed up with six other clubs in the Pacific Northwest (including Washington State) and landed major matching grants. This resulted in a total of approximately $225,000 for a wheelchair manufacturing initiative through the Transitions Foundation in Antigua.

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The foundation provides custom-built wheelchairs and prosthetics to people with disabilities in Guatemala.

The Abbotsford Rotary Club’s trip involves working for two days each at Transitions and Love Guatemala, which operates in a small shipping village about an hour outside of Antigua.

They will also spend one day visiting a women’s cooperative on Lake Atitlan which received five sewing machines from them last year.

The women have begun their own business and are providing an improved standard of living for their families in a small village.

The club is also taking along a dentist, and his wife, from North Vancouver. He, along with two Guatemalan dentists from Guatemala City, will provide two days of free dental care at Transitions.

Two other days will be spent touring other projects that the club has funded, along with some local sightseeing.

The club will be bringing along some clothes and sports equipment to donate, and one club member has donated $900 in first-aid supplies, which will go to the local fire department.

All team members are paying their own travel costs.

The Abbotsford Rotary Club was last involved in an international mission more than 10 years ago.

Two years ago, they decided it was time for another, and they wanted it to fall on the club’s 70th anniversary.

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The Transitions Foundation in Guatemala operates a workshop to build and repair wheelchairs. The Abbotsford Rotary Club will assist there during a trip to Guatemala from Feb. 7 to 16.