The Carmi Rotary club meeting on Thursday had an international flair, as assistant district governor Janice Alka was on hand to tell the Rotarians about her recent trip to the nation of Malawi. Malawi is a landlocked country in Africa, bordered by Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia. Like many African nations, it is considered a third world country and has many problems due to poverty.
Rotary district 6510 (the district the Carmi club belongs to) applied for a Rotary International grant five years ago to build water wells in Malawi. After many, many revisions and requirements, the grant was finally approved, and the project started.
Janice went with a group of Rotarians to see the progress, and came back both amazed, and with the realization that much more work is needed.
Her group visited several well sites, where she received an education on how the process works. Malawi is a hilly country, and during rainy season suffers from flooding in the low lying areas. For this reason, all of the villages are built on hills, but the water source is almost always in the valleys. With that in place, even with the completed wells, villagers must walk miles carrying five gallon buckets of water on their heads to transport the precious cargo from the well to the village.
Before the grant could even be approved, Rotary required education in sanitation classes be provided to the villagers. As Janice pointed out, having fresh water that is contaminated due to unsanitary conditions doesn’t serve any purpose.
Despite the hardship of carrying the water, a fresh water sell is a gigantic improvement for the locals, who were getting their water from muddy ditches in some places.
Janice pointed out that due to the nature of the tribal life style, there were always unusual hurdles to clear. In one village, a well was needed to provide water to a large school. Because the well would be so far from the village, and because crime is so widespread in the region, the Rotarians requested that a home should be built near the well, which was going to be equipped with a solar panel to help power a pump sending water to the school. When the request was given to the local chief, he said “no”. Not giving up, the Rotarians went to the higher ranking “regional chief”, and after much back and forth got the approval to let the well and the house go forward.
While in country, the Rotarians also visited a hospital that had nearly been closed by the government due to unsanitary conditions. With the help of the Rotarians, mattresses were bought for the maternity ward, and with the addition of a real doctor to run the facility, the hospital is now thriving. In fact, the doctor running the hospital is now an official member of the Columbia, Illinois Rotary club.
The group also visited a school in Malawi, a school that featured one teacher for 140 students. And to top it off, all 140 students were deaf. Janice explained that deafness is a major problem in the country due to the large occurrence of measles.
In closing, Janice noted that while many of the countries being dealt with are corrupt, Rotary has done a great job of controlling the money it uses to help these nations.
In club business, Janice Alka managed to pick her own number for the 50/50 drawing, but her luck ended there as she did not claim the day’s cash prize.
Morris McCall was named as the day’s phantom.
The Carmi Rotary club meets every Thursday at noon at the First United Methodist Church on Main Street in Carmi. Anyone wishing to learn more about this civic organization is welcome to attend a meeting or speak with any Carmi Rotarian.
Story provided by Randy Adams