Rotary Couple Opens Window To The World
What do Cha Am, Thailand; Mongkol Borei, Cambodia; New Delhi, India; Kathmandu, Nepal; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and Moshi, Tanzania have to do with Jamestown, New York?
These locations on the other side of the world have been brought up close to Jamestown through the service projects of the Rotary Club of Jamestown under the direction of David and Marissa Troxell. The club’s projects over the past seven years have spanned from the Himalayan region to Southeast Asia into India and as far flung as Africa.
David Troxell has been a member of the Rotary Club of Jamestown since 2011 and while his wife, Marissa is not formally a member, wherever David goes, Marissa is at his side. Since the couple travels extensively throughout the world, they were a natural to head up the international projects outreach for the Jamestown Club.
Both David and Marissa lived for many years in Japan, where they were professors in the English departments of Japanese universities. When the couple retired from Japan, they bought a house in a small beach town in Thailand where they spend the winters.
The couple decided to return to Jamestown for the spring and summer as David had been brought up in Sugar Grove, Pa., as a child and still had family in the area. They love the close neighborhood feel of Jamestown and were impressed with the number of community-based service organizations. For them, the area also has wonderful cultural venues like Chautauqua Institution, the National Comedy Center and its very own city baseball team unabashedly named the Tarp Skunks. David joined the local Rotary Club as it fostered his ideals of local and global community volunteer work, particularly working in children’s education and clean water sanitation, two important tenets of Rotary.
The Rotary Club of Jamestown hosts several fund raisers every year to support its service projects, with 60% of this money allocated to local efforts and 40% for international projects. Initially, in 2013, David and Marissa Troxell introduced the Club to the Cambodia Academy, a Rotary sponsored charity school in an extremely poor rural village in that country.
Beginning that year and over a period of years the Club worked to install playground grass at the school, added new white boards to the classrooms, sponsored eye screening sessions and paid for eyeglasses, built a water filtrations system for clean drinking water for the children and up graded the toilet and hand washing facilities. Under the Troxell’s continued guidance, the Club has since shared its resources repeatedly with international groups and schools in need throughout the developing world. David and Marissa have always taken the time and made the effort to be on site to ensure that all the projects are done on time and that the money properly spent.
In 2014, working closely with Jamestown Rotary and a local Rotary Club in Nepal, the Troxells devised a three-year plan to fund a Women’s Weaving Cooperative in Kathmandu. The following year, in northern Myanmar (formerly Burma) in the ancient town of Pagan, the Jamestown Club working with the Rotary Club in Yangon (formerly Rangoon) constructed a new fresh water collection cistern and introduced flush toilets to a small primary school. The Troxells then volunteered to be part of the Rotary Club’s Polio Free Global Initiative in India, vaccinating young children against the debilitating disease in concert with the Uptown Rotary Club of New Delhi.
In 2019, the Jamestown Club changed its focus to serve the African country of Ethiopia when David Troxell journeyed to Addis Ababa to meet with the local Rotary Club. He was soon introduced to about 300 children in the Wetatoch Primary School located in the poor urban center of the city. Some of them were homeless, many did not have shoes and teachers and teaching supplies were in woefully short supply. Like many of the children in this impoverished city, they were hungry. Malnutrition and the lack of education among the residents had worked to feed a cycle of unemployment, domestic violence and homeless children. A group of local volunteers had offered to serve one hot meal a day to the children, but there was no clean and safe place for them to eat. The Troxells brought this situation to the attention to the Vision Committee of the Rotary Club of Jamestown, and they were both soon on their way back to Ethiopia with funds from the Club combined with a donation from the Diocese of Saint Michael in Addis Ababa to construct a cafeteria building at the school.
Most recently, early in 2020, David and Marissa traveled to Moshi, Tanzania to help with the Jamestown Club’s project to provide clean toilets and hand washing stations at the Kaloleini Primary School. This was a joint international project involving Rotary Clubs in Camberwell, Australia and in Moshi, Tanzania. Due to poor or nonexistent sanitation at the school, diarrhea and liver parasites are among the most difficult diseases which run unchecked throughout the area. The school is extremely basic and has no electricity with rooms filled with simple wooden desks and benches. In the school cafeteria, food is prepared over a wood burning fire. Throughout their travels and service over the years, the Troxells have always been touched to witness the allegiance that children have in all these needy schools. For the students, these schools are safe, clean and filled with caring friends and teachers. The Troxells worked hand in hand with local volunteers and the project was successfully completed in early spring. It was enthusiastically received by the school administration and the local Rotary Club. This “clean toilets clean hands” project was also a great gift for the Jamestown Club to offer to the children of the school. This is work of which the club is justifiably proud. Without Rotary’s involvement, these children would still be in the same dismal circumstances as the children in other small towns in so many parts of Africa. This was a simple service. We take clean toilets and soap and water for granted. For these children, the involvement of Rotary was a very basic and much appreciated step into a healthier and happier life.
Next year, if all goes well, the Troxells have been invited to the Millennial Sunrise Rotary Club of Karachi, Pakistan to join in an interesting project, but who knows what the travel hurdles will be.
For more information on the Jamestown Rotary Club, visit the club at www.jamestownnyrotary.org.