International Humanitarian Work and Missions
Since 1999, Steve Lingenbrink has had the opportunity to participate in several international outreach programs serving the poorest of populations in Eastern Europe, Russia, Central America, Mexico and Africa. He has worked with a variety of humanitarian organizations and ministries in providing economic aid, development support and medical services. Participating in these trips with his wife and children has been especially meaningful. Summaries of these outreach projects follow chronologically by location. Links are provided to more detailed information and photos.

Russia/Ukraine

Steve and a team of six others traveled to Uglich, Perm and several other cities in Russia and Ukraine in 2002 through Rotary International. The purpose of the lengthy trip was to provide financial assistance to orphans and widows, build a medical/dental clinic and explore the implementation of an internet cafe designed to educate and employ the orphans.

What’s Behind the Symbol?

Logo for Lingenbrink LawThe logo for Lingenbrink Law is an interpretation of the West African Adinkra symbol for law and justice developed by the Asante people of Ghana. The use of the symbol to represent the law firm is especially meaningful in light of Steve’s work in Africa and other nations.

Romania/Moldova
In 1999 and 2001, Steve and a team of five others conducted humanitarian trips to Romania. Their visits were an extension of several prior trips made by Dr. Michael Hyodo DDS, who had established a dental clinic at an orphanage in Botosani. The orphanage was founded by Dimitru Duduman and his family many years ago and is supported by their Helping Hand Ministry.During that trip, Steve, Mike and the team continued dental service to the poor, as well as provided direct assistance to the neediest of people in the Botosani area, including the funding of buildings, land, farm animals, food and clothing to provide immediate relief. They also provided funding for long-term benefits in the infrastructure. Botosani is a city of 100,000 people with an unemployment rate over 80% and average wages of $80/month. Inflation has run rampant with the exchange rate jumping as much as 2,500% per year. With that inflation, the $20,000 (US) in support from various organizations and individuals went a long way to help the people of Botosani and the surrounding communities. View photos from the 2001 Mission Trip.

Guatemala

In March of 2003, Steve’s trip to Guatemala began what would become a multi-year and multi-organizational journey with Agros International. He traveled with a group led by Mike Yukevich from Seattle. They visited the villages of Trapichitos (“the place of the little sugar hills”) and Xeucalvitz (“halfway up the mountain”). The group had a three hour hike into Trapichitos and an additional three hour climb the next day up to 8,000 feet at Xeucalvitz. At that time, Trapichitos was the sixteenth village supported by the Argos Foundation in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.  Read more about Trapichitos.

With 14 million people, Guatemala has been ravaged by a 30 plus year civil war. Five million people are living below the poverty line. Because of disproportionate ownership, there ‘s not much land available for individual purchase. Agros buys land and sells it back to the farmers and helps them develop plans for their new land. Agros International has helped families in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Chiapas, Mexico build self-sustaining and thriving communities.

Their development process is simple, but powerful. Today, thousands of people who had lost hope are healing their scars and building a brighter future for themselves and their children. Families who for generations knew only war, cruelty, murder, and poverty are buying land, growing crops and building homes. Remote mountain villages destroyed by war are constructing house-to-house water systems and latrines. Soldiers who only knew how to kill are growing medicinal crops for their community. Parents who never had an education are building schools. Children who were born in refugee camps are dreaming of college. Families who were evicted and abused by cruel landowners now own their own productive and sustainable farms. Women who had no hope of escaping from abusive husbands have become entrepreneurs capable of supporting themselves and their children. Churches, communities and people all over the United States are giving gifts that change people’s lives—and are being transformed themselves in the process.

Agros’ unique approach, based on empowerment through land loans and training, has helped thousands of Central American and Mexican families learn to dream again. For these families and villages, life will never be the same. Through Agros’ time-tested, practical assistance, they have gained the land and skills to build a better future. Learn more about the Agros Development Process.

Since that 2002 trip, Steve and his family have become champions of the village of Xeucalvitz. They along with Mike Yukevich and a group from Pennsylvania have undertaken the task of developing a self sufficient village at Xeucalvitz. This is no small undertaking, as there at 109 families living there.

Multiple trips later, Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club (BBRC) members Steve Lingenbrink and Curtis Cummings, along with their daughters Sarah Lingenbrink and Ciara Cummings, returned to the village of Xeucalvitz, Guatemala. The team was organized by Mike and Kelly Yukevich of Agros International. The purpose of the trip was three-fold: to revisit their friends in the village; to complete a road up to the village and to plan the components of future water and educational projects.

Steve and his family have returned to the village in September of 2005 and February of 2006. The trip in September was particularly memorable. That was a defining moment in the history of Xeucalvitz. The land signing ceremony commemorating the purchase of 500+ acres of land for the village was held while the team was in the village. This is the first step in becoming financially independent. Equally important was the dedication of the fresh water system for the village. That system was funded by the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club and a matching grant from Rotary International. The difference in the health of the children due to clean drinking water was readily apparent on their follow-up trip in 2006.

Rotary teams are visiting Xeucalvitz multiple times each year to continue to support and champion the cause of the villagers. If you are interested in supporting a village or a child, please contact Steve directly at steve@lingenbrink.com.

Kenya, Africa

Steve traveled to Kenya, Africa in August of 2007 with fellow BBRC member Curtis Cummings, his wife Carla and Randy Ostman (from the Newport, WA Rotary Club). The trip was multi-purpose and multi-organizational as well. They toured Nairobi Slums, visited several rural schools and gathered information which helped set the ground work for Rotary’s participation in Ol Pejeta College of Business, Economics and Conservation. This whirlwind trip covered thousands of miles and helped build new relationships for broader Rotary project scope in Kenya.

Work in Kenya engaged America’s Foundation for Chess in ways not first envisioned. Return trips will involve building critical thinking skills in schools of all levels in Kenya by teaching chess as part of the curriculum.

For detailed information about the Kenya project read, Rotary International Water Project: Brief Background History

Antigua

Since 2007, Steve has led teams of Rotarians and Newport High School students to the Caribbean country of Antigua. As part of the Rotary’s Computers for the World matching grant project, these trips and others to Slovakia and Turkey will have installed over 1,500 computers in schools by February of 2011. These projects have taken over 80 students overseas to get on-the-job experience in setting up computer labs in schools, libraries, hospitals and community centers.

By the completion of the 2011 projects in Antigua, more than $20,000 of school supplies will have been distributed to local schools along with 4,500 dictionaries for third grade students. Industrial grade sewing machines have also been donated to community centers that teach women in poverty how to sew to earn a living. Find out more in these Antigua trip blogs.