Selling coffee for a cause
A village in Bolivia now has access to clean water as the result of a project supported by The Rotary Foundation’s Clean Water for Coffee Growing Countries Donor Advised Fund. Photo courtesy of Five for Water
B y selling fair trade coffee to Rotary clubs throughout the United States, a former Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar is helping to raise money to fund worldwide clean water initiatives.
A pump provides water to a village in Tanzania -- part of a project made possible by the Foundation’s donor advised fund. Water and sanitation is one of Rotary’s areas of focus under the Future Vision Plan. Photo courtesy of Five for Water
Five for Water , a project started by Bill Prost, a member of the Rotary Club of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, USA, finances a Rotary Foundation donor advised fund for water projects in coffee-producing countries. After forming a partnership with Green Mountain Coffee, Prost invited clubs to purchase the organic coffee and sell it in their community. Funds generated from the sales would go toward water projects throughout Africa, Central and South America, and Indonesia.
“I wanted to create a year-round project that’s fit for any size club,” says Prost, who studied in England as a 1979-80 Rotary Scholar. “Any club, no matter how large or small, can help be a part of this. It’s a really simple project.”
Even though the project was launched only a year ago, more than 300 clubs in the United States are already selling the coffee. Their efforts have netted nearly $184,000, providing more than 50,000 people in 10 countries with access to clean water.
An estimated two million people die every year from waterborne diseases, and more than one billion lack access to clean water, according to the World Health Organization. “I told myself that, as a Rotarian, it was my responsibility to do something about [that],” Prost says.
After the money is raised, clubs seek an international partnership with another club and apply for a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant. A big focus of Five for Water has been funding the installation of wells to serve schools, orphanages, and medical clinics -- but, according to Prost, the project’s scope goes beyond that.
“We’re not narrow-minded on what we’ll fund,” he says. “It’s always about water and where we can have a good partnership.”
Wells in Bolivia
Recently, Five for Water installed eight wells in Bolivia and pump stations near a reservoir in Sumatra. Prost has also partnered with a club in Missouri and Engineers Without Borders to create a pipeline in Honduras that supplies water from an existing well and a water tower. The project’s goal is to provide more than 300 families with clean drinking water.
Because Five for Water only sells coffee in the United States, and several clubs elsewhere have expressed an interest in getting involved, Prost says the next step is to expand the project internationally.
“This is a simple and fun project designed for any club,” he says. “It works because Rotary has so many international components, and we’re all wanting to work together for a similar cause.”
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