Each year Rotary Districts of Arizona and Districts 4100 and 4185 of Mexico trade hosting the USA/Mexico Friendship Conference and Global Grants Exchange.
The conference includes social events, tours and presentation of projects seeking matching grants. Representatives of clubs seeking projects to support arrive with authority to commit funds from their club's international projects budget to the various projects.  Not all of the projects presented will be in Mexico.
By Dick Youngberg, International Services Chair
The USA/Mexico Friendship Conference and Grants Presentation was conducted at and by the Rotary Club of Sedona in November, 2015.
Approximately thirty Mexican Rotarians from Districts 4100 and 4185 and their spouses participated along with an slightly larger numberrom Districts 5490, 5500 and 5510.  It was a very heartwarming experience which involved many members of our club as well as the Red Rocks club.  We all hosted our guests, fed them, entertained them and showed them the red rocks.
Of greatest importance was the grants presentation at which time many of the Mexican Clubs described projects they wanted to pursue but which required International partners and/or financial support.  Over ten Arizona Clubs were ready to provide donations to projects.  It would be the choice of the donating clubs to determine which project(s) to support.  In a meeting prior to commencing, Arizona clubs were polled as to how much they were prepared to make available.  In all but one case it was $500 or $1,000.  The exception was our club with a pre-conference commitment of $5,000.
When the time came to seek partners, President Tim Ernster and International Service Committee chair, Dick Youngberg,  consulted with each other and sought projects which they felt were worthy, strategic and suitable as they related to Rotary's Avenues of Service.  By prior arrangement, Tim and Dick had been pre-authorized by the International Service Committee and the club's Charitable Board to allocate up to $5,000.00 for projects which met the criteria.
Our primary goal was to find a project in which Rotary Club of Sedona could become an International Partner with the sponsoring counterpart club.  This involves both being a significant donor to the project and to provide a series of checks and balances to satisfy span of control criteria of The Rotary Foundation.  Due to his experience in city management, Tim noticed an infrastructure project at Zoquitla , an indigenous Aztec village high in the Sierra Mountain of Southern Mexico. The Rotary Club of Zacatlan ,Mexico was proposing to build a passive waste water treatment facility to replace the practise of using a trench running down through the center of town to handle the waste water.  The trench now runs into a creek which flows through four other towns below Zoquitla, hence contaminating that source of water for all of those towns.  We immediately approached the Zacatlan Rotarians and told them we wished to  donate $3,000 to their project and become their International Partner.  With the assistance of Our District Foundation representatives, the partnership was agreed upon and we are now awaiting the final approvals and the commencement of construction.
St. Andrews Suppers Crew did the cooking for the Hoe DownIn addition we donated $1,000 to a children's dental clinic in East Tijuana, Mexico and $500 to a  mobile women's breast examination vehicle for Hermosillo, Mexico.  Our final $500 went to a project outside of the scope of the conference but at the request of Paul Puliken, District 5490 Governor, to place private toilet facilities for girls in 100 Indian Schools.  While out of the original goals of the conference it was a quid pro quo with Mr Puliken who had made $3,000 of District funds available to the Zacatlan (Zoquitla) project.
At the next Friendship conference to be held in Vera Cruz, Mexico in October of 2016, several club members intend to go to visit our 2015 Global Grant project with Boca del Rio Costa de Oro under which school libraries are being fully funded and installed in six elementary schools. Rotary Club of Sedona is also an International partner in that project.  We also hope to visit Zacatlan and perhaps even Zoquitla during our visit.
Our donation along with those of other clubs and the financial leverage of The Rotary Foundation will provide approximately $40,000 for the Zoquitla project.  The power of Rotary in action.