Posted by: Wasrag | November 15, 2012

The Magic of Friendships!

In 2005, in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria, Princewill Oyakhilome and the members of the Benin City Metropolitan RC, District 9140, had a dream.  The dream was created as a result of an assessment, thus a discovery that would ultimately be life changing.  These Rotarians found, within mere miles of their homes, Nigerians without clean water, sanitation, and sometimes all the simple things that others took for granted.  They found a need; a need that led to the dream of building a water well within one of those villages.

Princewill, Rose, and Rusty at the Ghana NID Project Fair

In 2005, Rusty Broughton, DG5400 and the members of the East Idaho Falls Rotary Club had a dream.  Rusty wanted to help prevent Polio in children throughout the world.  She, with support from her club, found a National Immunization event to be held in Ghana.

As happens so many times in this wonderful catalyst organization called Rotary, the two dreams were soon to collide in a result far beyond any one person’s dream.  Friendships between people in distant continents, people who would have no way to even meet without Rotary, were about to create Magic!

So why did we think this is Magic?  That word, so often seen as a stage trick or illusion, truly fits.  It is a word describing “the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious forces.”  How could we doubt the magic of two people, two clubs,

D9140 Team

coming together to ultimately help 28 villages achieve clean, running water; 28, not just the ONE sought at the beginning.  How can we doubt, when the third phase of the project is currently supporting efforts to build 4 stall bathrooms in the first 14 villages during the third of a four phased plan.  Truly mysterious forces — truly MAGIC!

The Project
During the 2006-07 Rotary year, a grant was written with several districts in the US and one in Nigeria, coordinating a project designed to provide water wells, storage tanks and simple delivery systems in local villages having negligible and mostly no access to

Water & wells !

clean drinking water. Working with other districts which provided a dollar for dollar match for funds and several clubs in Idaho, we were able to develop a grant of over $50,000.

This grant was approved and completed within a 2-3 month time span — a highly unusual time frame – and wells were operational! The reason for this success was the direct hands on assistance by Nigerian Rotarian and Dr. Princewill, Assistant Governor and OB-GYN physician. He served as the in-country Lead, with Rusty Broughton as the International Chair for the United States Districts and Clubs.  Members of the U.S. team had the privilege of visiting the wells during a November trip to Benin City, Nigeria and felt the thrill of helping others in great need.  Princewill had assured us that if we supported the grant, he would personally make sure that funds were spent correctly, quickly, and that a final report would be submitted to TRF as soon as the project was completed.

The $50,000 plus grant was spent on the following items:

  1. Fourteen new water wells with tanks and pumps, installed throughout D9140.
  2. Each installation included the Rotary logo plus the names of clubs and district supporting the projects.
  3. Cement areas were built and covered with tile and included three faucets for water delivery.  Cement structures were built to provide cleaner water and to prevent the build up of mud and slime beneath the faucets.
  4. Recipients could bring their own buckets to collect water and 2-300 gallon storage tanks were filled two times per day.
  5. Each well serves several thousand people in a given neighborhood. Locals are assessed a small fee to help maintain each well site, ensuring individual “buy in” and thus sustainability;
  6. Grant funds also paid for portable generators to assist in pumping water into the tanks. These are removed at night and secured in order to prevent theft.
  7. At least two youth were trained by the engine manufacturer to ensure consistent repair and maintenance.
  8. Educators visited each village, teaching hygiene, supporting consistency in health maintenance.

A young male farmer within a recipient village, growing yams (thanks to the new water source!) to pay for his college education, asked if we could consider building bathrooms in addition to the fresh water.  His request spurred the second phase of the project.  

 We began with a man’s dream to build one water well.  We built 28!  We moved to a young Nigerian’s dream of having bathrooms within his village, and now are building the first 14 with the remaining 14 to be completed next year.

The project started with two clubs and two individuals joining together to fulfill a dream.  There are now 7 Districts and 22 clubs in two countries focused collaboratively on ensuring fresh water and bathroom facilities for over 36,000 Nigerians in need.  As we focused on constructing the wells and bathrooms, we consistently demanded sustainability.   After U.S. team members made site visits and met grateful villagers, it seems apparent that over 36,000 villagers now KNOW that the world has not forgotten them.  They can perhaps feel some relief from at least a few of the challenges they have forever faced daily.

The ingredients of a great project include a trustworthy Host District Partnership.  Princewill, now working within his new club, Rotary Club of New Benin and its members, calls at least weekly, providing reports and pictures for all donors to enjoy.

Commission the first toilet – Sept. 2012

A final note:  Princewill and Rusty will lead the project to its ultimate goal:  28 water wells and 28 bathrooms in 28 villages.  When the final phase is complete, we will all know that indeed, magic has occurred!  The Magic of Friendships – The Magic of Rotary!

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