August 15, 2003 - North Jersey News: RPCV Rod Foley throws Lifeline to a poor Guatemalan village

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RPCV Rod Foley throws Lifeline to a poor Guatemalan village

Read and comment on this story from the North Jersey News about RPCV Rod Foley who is spearheading a group in his church, St. Andrew's, to help support the tiny, impoverished village of San Lucas Toliman in Guatemala at:

Lifeline to a poor Guatemalan village*

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Lifeline to a poor Guatemalan village

Friday, August 15, 2003


Longtime Westwood resident Rod Foley is spearheading a group in his church, St. Andrew's, to help support the tiny, impoverished village of San Lucas Toliman in Guatemala. The Record recently spoke to him about his work.

Q. What inspired you to launch this effort?

A. I was a volunteer in the Peace Corps from 1963 to 1965 and for much of the time, I was stationed in the village of San Lucas. I befriended a young priest named Father Greg Schaffer who was there on a five-year assignment. He found that the people there needed so much help, he ended up staying there. We have remained in touch over the years. I have visited him several times there and promised to help. He's given 40 years of his life to helping the community of San Lucas Toliman, and I wanted to do my share. This project is the result of that. Hopefully, the concept will spread to other churches and clubs.

Q. What kind of help do these people need?

A. The conditions are extremely bad, and the people are very needy, and there are not too many people down there who are willing to help them. They desperately need better housing. Most homes don't have running water or electricity. Some of them are made of cornstalks with scraps of metal for the roof, and they're covered with plastic to keep out the rain. A major mudslide in 2002 destroyed dozens of homes and resulted in the loss of life of 35 people. We need to replace those homes.

Q. How difficult is it for them to obtain food?

A. The food is there, but most of the people there have no money to buy it. They are very poor, so they grow their own corn and beans. Their properties are small, so they are limited in how much they can grow. Mostly they eat tortilla, eggs, and vegetables and once in a while, some chicken.

Q. What has your group accomplished since it was established in June?

A. The first thing we did was, we had a collection at all our Masses. As a result, we pulled in nearly $4,100 in donations. We're also planning a golfing fund-raiser on Sept. 27. It will cost $5 to play in the contest, and the first prize is a $950 set of golf clubs. Before the holidays, we hope to sell the Juan Ana coffee produced by the families of San Lucas. It provides a livelihood for them. If we can sell 600 bags, we could make $1,500. Our group is also collecting new and used clothing, tools, school supplies, household items, and medical supplies, which we will send over in a large container.

We also want to organize volunteer groups to spend time in the community there, including medical professionals who would volunteer their services. We already have 20 people from the parish who are interested in going.

Our goal is to raise $12,000 by the end of the year to build new homes there. I don't know if we will reach our goal, but I hope we will come close.


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