Suffer the Little Children
by Jacqueline Hartling Stolze
Scott knows the exact moment when he first thought of applying for a Wall Service Award. "We were in a slum in Bangkok," he recalls. "Over 40,000 people in an area of about 10 square blocks, living in cardboard, wood, and tin shacks-some with as many as 30 people living in a single room. Food, what little there is, being cooked in the street, just inches away from the gutter where raw sewage flows. There were children of all ages, playing in the streets ... probably the most atrocious conditions I've ever seen.
"As I stood there looking at those children, I saw in them my own children ... The faces were the same," Scott says. "I felt such shame that I had not done more.
"It was at that moment that the Grinnell Wall Service Award came to mind."
At the time, he handed over all the money in his pocket-$25 U.S. dollars-to the priest in charge of the school and clinic. The priest told him that the money would pay for the care of one child for 100 days.
"That's when the wheels really started to spin," Scott says. "We could really have a significant impact."
Scott's project will bring together a team of 16 professionals to renovate and enlarge two orphanages in the City of Lijiang, Yunnan Province, China. The orphanages are home to almost 300 children who have lost their parents to the natural disasters that have recently ravaged the area. Hundreds more children live on their own in towns and villages, struggling to survive, and there are currently no facilities for infants at the orphanages.
Conditions at the orphanages are far from ideal. The buildings are crowded, drafty, unsanitary, and unheated. One blanket is allotted for two children. Illnesses go untreated. Food is scarce, and the children lack protein in their diets.
Scott plans to change that, with the help of Grinnell College and Rotary International.
Scott, who is an Iowa legislator and executive director of the Institute for Character Development at Drake University, is also a Rotary member. His fellow Rotarians will play an important part in the project by offering their time, skills, professional expertise, and funds. The Rotary organization will also match the funds provided by Grinnell.
The total price tag for the project is $125,000, with travel expenses and other incidentals being paid by the volunteers themselves unless more donations can be found.
Scott says the lessons he learned from Professor Wall and others at Grinnell College have brought him to this place in life. "Grinnell set a standard that there was a responsibility to use that education to make the world a better place," Scott says. "It really penetrated my soul.
"Grinnell has given so much to me-I want to leverage that to help someone else."