Our Opinion: Serving a partnership with Panama

News Tribune editorial

Area Rotarians are partnering to enhance a partnership.

Rotary Club members have joined with the Missouri National Guard to aid the people of Panama.

The Guard has maintained a presence in Panama since 1996, according to Lt. Col. Rebecca Segovia-Johnson. A component of the Guard’s mission is a Defense Department partnership program to build relationships and foster mutual interests with Panamanians.

The partnership has received a significant boost through efforts of Rotarians, who have committed to improve the health care, education and the general welfare in Panama.

During a recent conference held in Jefferson City, representatives from 48 separate Rotary clubs in attendance donated items for well-baby kits. The kits include medical supplies, blankets, shampoo, lotions and other items.

Local businesses also assisted the effort. Among them was Scholastic Inc., which contributed infant and children’s books in Spanish.

In addition, Rotarians donated more than $11,000 in cash for projects in Panama.

The partnership also has brought personal transportation carts for disabled adults and water purification systems to Panama.

The filtration systems come with an added benefit — training.

“We want to make sure they not only have the access to clean water,” said Segovia-Johnson, “but know how to take care of the system so they will have clean water available for some time ...”

A true partnership must be a reciprocal relationship and, in that spirit, Panamanian officials also have visited Mid-Missouri to observe, learn and share information.

The motto of Rotary International is “Service Above Self.”

Area Rotarians have transformed those words into action.

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