Thank you to Irene Weis for taking photos.   

 Last week Rotarians David Andersen, Ed Ranson and Irene Weis boxed more than 35 band instruments for shipment to Ecuador.  A year ago, Andersen and Ranson traveled to the South American country to learn more about a music conservatory in Esmeraldas brought to the Park Rapids Rotary’s attention when the club hosted Fernando Checa on a Rotary Youth Exchange stay in 2015-16. The youth’s grandfather is a long-time member and past president of the Esmeraldas Rotary Club and had suggested the connection.

The conservatory offers a free program to teach instrumental music, vocal lessons and dance in an effort to keep kids off the streets and out of gangs. Students range from 5 years old to 15.

Shortly after Andersen and Ranson returned, the Park Rapids Rotary Club approved a plan to contribute band instruments to the conservatory with the hope that eventually club members will travel to Esmeraldas to lend their musical expertise and do some repairs at the conservatory building. The structure experienced some damage in the earthquake that struck Ecuador during Checa’s stay here.

Last winter Missy and Andy Lindow and their family visited Esmeraldas, too, and delivered a cornet and two trombones. In the months since people have continued to donate instruments. Milt Hanson, owner of RPT Music, repaired any that needed work and then they were stored until now.

The boxes are going to Miami where they will be placed in a shipping container bound for Ecuador.