SOLEDAD — Rotary District Governor Art Gafferty visited the Soledad, Greenfield and Gonzales Rotary Clubs on Oct. 25 to speak about different outreach works that Rotary has participated in.
Gafferty traveled to Romani, Domari in Iraq on a Rotary mission in the late 2000s to early 2010s to help the farmers. Gafferty was the second agricultural team leader to come to Romani.
“This project was to go out into the province and find farming families that would work with me,” Gafferty said. “If three or more families would group together and work together, then America would give them a new tractor.”
Gafferty found 48 families that would agree to the terms and 12 tractors were given out to those families. Sixty days later, the project was pulled for audit by the Department of State in Washington, D.C. The tractors had to be photographed and certified that they were used as stated in the report.
“I found two out of the 12,” said Gafferty. “The only reason I knew there were two in the area was that one drove by us and was being used as the family vehicle.”
Gafferty went back to the other families and the families would say that they didn’t know. Gafferty soon learned that the gross family earnings versus the price of the tractor made up a huge gap. The best scenario that Gafferty could come up with was that the other families sold the vehicle for money and were living off that income; however, the reality was probably that someone came and took the tractor from the families.
Gafferty learned from the first project that anything with wheels was a “no-go.” The final project he was involved with in Iraq was for women because he received a special request from then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Gafferty came up with a project for widows in agriculture who would be willing to attend a dairy cow husbandry course. To teach the course, Gafferty reached out to Land-O-Lakes.
“All these women completed the course and received a producing dairy cow,” he said.