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Rotarians seek help in finishing Nicaragua school construction

PLATTSBURGH - People of the North Country are reaching out to children thousands of miles away in an effort to give them an adequate place to receive an education.

Members of the Plattsburgh Noon Rotary Club are raising money to help the Tiscapa Rotary Club in Managua, Nicaragua, which aims to complete construction of the Paul Harris School there, in honor of the founder of Rotary International.

Rotarian Martin D. Mannix addressed the local club Jan. 21, describing the condition of the school as he saw it on a recent trip to the Central American city.

"It was one of the more depressing sites imaginable," said Mannix. "The flooring is there, the sidewalls are there, but it has no roof, it has no windows."

The Tiscapa Rotary Club ran out of money before the project could be completed, he said, resulting in the more than 400 students to receive their education from a metal warehouse with little ventilation.

"There are no windows. There's a ceiling fan, but it doesn't work," said Mannix. "And, there's one light bulb that's probably a 60-watt light bulb that hangs from the ceiling. With the exception of light from the doorway they leave open, that's the only light that goes in the room."

"It's a pretty sorry testament to Paul Harris to have this school sit there unfinished, and yet, it's not a monumental task for us to be able to do it," he added.

The cost to complete the construction of the Paul Harris School is estimated at $13,000, said Mannix. The Plattsburgh Noon Rotary Club has teamed up with the Bergen Highlands Rotary Club in Ramsey, N.J., to solicit donations for what Mannix called an "attainable goal."

Mannix, who will return to Nicaragua in February, said he wants to be able to bring the necessary money to complete the project and give the Managuan children the school building they deserve.

"When we come back [from Nicaragua], I want to bring back the before and after pictures and pictures of those kids when they see their school completed," said Mannix.

Those interested in making a donation toward the Paul Harris School project may contact Mannix at 563-5666 or Bonnie Black at 563-8293.

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