Teenage orphan and foster youth in Serbia are learning computer skills that will give them a better chance at self-supporting lives, thanks to the Thomasville Rotary Club (Georgia, US — District 6900).
The project, organised by local Rotarian Walter Gilbert, purchased 30 computers for an orphanage in Belgrade, Serbia, and two centres for foster children elsewhere in the country.
“We wanted them to have marketable skills so they could become self-supporting,” Gilbert said.
About 70 per cent of the orphan children become involved in drugs, crime or prostitution, he said, and 10 per cent commit suicide within five years of leaving the orphanage.
“Only 20 per cent find meaningful lives,” he said.
Thomasville’s Rotary Club donated $7,500 to the project. That amount was matched by a district Rotary grant of $7,500, and a Rotary Global Grant brought the total to $30,000.
Gilbert became aware of the need through his work as chief executive officer of An Open Door Adoption Agency Inc.
He coordinated on the project with Nenad Sakovik, the president of a Belgrade Rotary club.
Sakovik said more than 200 individuals have now been trained using the computers.
“I’m happy that the project has fulfilled its goal,” he wrote to Gilbert. “I thank you for all your efforts you put on this.”
Gilbert began leading the Thomasville club’s international projects 18 years ago, when he joined the club. His first one was finding a grant so that books collected by the club could be transported to libraries in South Africa.
Other projects over the years purchased a dental chair and supporting equipment for a non-profit in Quito, Ecuador, and raised money for an Indian charity that operates several leper colonies and runs homes for widows and widowers and HIV, deaf and handicapped children.
The club also provided a tractor to plough the rice fields and helped the charity set up a dairy farm for milking water buffalo.
Gilbert said the club passed the hat for his first project but since has budgeted money for projects every year. He has now passed the chairmanship of the club’s World Community Service Committee to club member Eugene McNease, who is continuing the club’s tradition of global service.