Bringing new life to Sierra Leone
Workers drill to create a water well for a rural community in Sierra Leone. Photo courtesy of the Rotary Club of Fishers
For the Rotary Club of Fishers, Indiana, USA, it wasn’t difficult to decide where and how to help the global community become a better place.
“Sierra Leone is [near] the bottom of the list of needy countries,” says Fishers Rotarian Thomas Branum Jr. “One of our members had been to Sierra Leone and said this could be a place where we could do something really well.”
One in five children in the West African nation die before age 5, according to UNICEF, many from waterborne diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever. In 2009, the Fishers club began a project that resulted one year later in the installation of 14 wells, changing the lives of 10,000 people.
First large global grant
But the club wasn’t content to stop there. It joined with the Rotary Club of Freetown, Sierra Leone, in proposing a project that was awarded the first Foundation global grant greater than $100,000. The $122,673 grant, combined with District 6560 (Indiana) DDF and funding from 11 Indiana clubs and one in Sierra Leone, yielded a total project budget of $303,517. The project, which is aligned with the Future Vision Plan ’s water and sanitation area of focus, is moving ahead to install 71 more wells serving as many as 71,000 people in rural communities.
Three clubs in Sierra Leone and World Hope International, a nongovernmental organization, have committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the project after the project’s completion. Local Rotarians are helping to choose locations for the wells, monitor the wells’ effectiveness after installation, and form community committees to maintain the wells on an ongoing basis.
The Fishers club is overseeing the project’s progress, including financial management.
Making a difference
“These wells are very effective and they are sealed, so there’s no contamination,” says Christopher Forster, a member of the Rotary Club of Freetown, Sierra Leone. “In Sierra Leone, 40 percent of all out-patient visits are water-related. So [by] giving clean water, you are really making a difference in people’s lives.”
The project has drawn the attention of the media, general public, and highest level of government in Sierra Leone.
“With the contribution of water wells from Rotary International, Sierra Leone will go a long way in providing safe, clean water and healthy living for people,” says the nation’s president, Ernest Bai Koroma.