The other day, I was attending a Rotary meeting, enjoying breakfast and the fellowship of my fellow Burke Rotary Club members, when I was reminded of one of the reasons I decided to join Rotary over a year ago. Our guest speaker, Scott Mills, a fellow Rotarian (and wonderful person I might add) shared a story with us that really touched my heart. I thought I would share it with you:
Jamal was still being carried in his mother’s arms when Rotarians came to his village to begin giving him the pink drops that would ensure he would never contract the crippling disease polio. While his country has been certified “polio free,” isolated outbreaks occasionally still occur. For Jamal and his playmates, however, a much more persistant and insidious killer stalks the small children of his village. It’s harbored in the very life-sustaining water that their mothers carry to the village each morning on their heads from pools and streams several miles away. Their source of clean water is scarce, and the water that IS available often is polluted by runoff from cattle or municipal waste. Many days, Jamal, now almost three, plays in the streets of his village naked from the waist down because of the persistent diarrhea that eventually may cause his wasting and death if his village doesn’t develop a clean, reliable source of water. Hundeds of children in his village have already died. It’s a situation we here in the U.S. should never tolerate, and neither would Jamal’s mother if she had any other options.
All over the world, more than 24,000 children will die today — most, like Jamal, are under age five. One thousand children will die in the time it takes most of us to mow our lawns this week. Yet, most of these deaths are entirely preventable.
Fortunately for Jamal and the other children of his village, hope is already on its way. Two years ago, work began on a three-year, multi-phased Rotary Foundation-funded project to bring clean, mountain spring water to the village of Wum, Cameroon. This project was spearheaded by a Charlottesville, VA Rotarian named Tom Dunnells with funding from the Rotary Foundation, using plans developed through an enterprising design contest by engineering students at the University of Virginia. In one day, with the help of local Cameroon Rotarians, Jamal’s own mother and other village residents assisted in digging the trench from their village up the side of a mountain so that pipes for the gravity-fed water main can be installed to bring the clean water to Wam.
This is just one example of what Rotarians do . . .we restore a sense of safety and security for people in need. Through the volunteer work of the over 1.2 million Rotarians world-wide and their contributions to the Rotary Foundation, lives of people we will never see are changed for the better in hundreds of ways. Hence, our motto: Service Above Self.
Did you know? The Rotary Foundation is distinguished from all other organizations because 100% of donations to the Annual Programs Fund supports the humanitarian and educational programs of Rotarians. Donations to the Rotary Foundation go even further than most other non-profit organizations because they support projects that are administered by local Rotarian business and community leaders who put volunteer energies into the improvement of communities and the lives of people who live in them.
Did you also know? Independent evaluator, Charity Navigator, ranks The Rotary Foundation as No. 4 on its list of “10 Best Charities Everyone’s Heard Of,” saying “These 10 Charities became household names in part because of their exceptional financial management, no easy feat considering the scope and size of their operations. Charitable givers should feel confident that these national institutions put their donations to good use.”
Service Above Self. If you are looking for a way to bring some balance to your life, and help people in need at the same time, do what I did. Attend a local Rotary meeting and see how you can help. You’ll be glad you did. For info on finding a Rotary Club near you, go to www.rotary.org