“I joined Sunrise because they do stuff,” he said.
That’s why Johnson is extremely optimistic and hopeful.
Johnson was asked by Sunrise Rotary’s current president Mark Rodgers to head up the organization’s water projects. Rodgers has made the implementation of at least three new clean water projects one of his main objectives this year.
And Johnson is confident “it’s very doable,” based on what the club has been doing and also on how the water project has come together so far.
But not without many people from various groups and organizations volunteering and coming together to make it happen.
“Partnership” is the key to success, he said.
The first step was to apply for grants. That’s where Linda Record stepped in, a professional grant writer and, as it happens, also a member of Sunrise Rotary. She helped write and get at least one new grant for the first water project by the club.
Next, “we talked about a number of places,” Johnson said.
Morazan, Honduras, was selected because Johnson is well aquatinted with Honduras. He already has contacts within the country through various mission groups he’s met.
Plus, he knows the need is great in Honduras.
The doctor told the assembled Sunrise Rotarians that, according to the information from the Library of Congress, adequate health care for the poor is limited. Widespread malnutrition makes 34 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 5 have stunted growth. Plus, most of the population doesn’t have access to safe water or sanitation facilities, a key factor in the country’s high infant mortality rate — 63 out of every 1,000 live births — and low life expectancy — 64.9 years.
“It’s 79 years in the U.S.,” he said.
With around 1.3 million people in Honduras without health care, infectious and parasitic diseases are widespread. These diseases are largely preventable if a safe and clean source of water, along with education, were made available.
Most folks in Honduras earn between $6 and $8 a day. A 5-gallon bottle of water cost $1.20, making it difficult for most to spend that large a portion of their income on water.
“There is no treated water in the country of Honduras,” Johnson said.
After deciding on where, the next hurdle was to get in touch with two well companies in Honduras for bids. But a twist of fate brought Johnson to the Methodist Church in Peewee Valley in Louisville, Ky. This church already had needed equipment and some personnel available, as well as a program in place — Living Waters — that has built many water treatment plants in Guatemala. And Sunrise Rotary was able to foot the cost of what was needed, thanks to the grant being received early. This Living Waters group also just hired a native Honduran representative last week — and he speaks fluent English.
Johnson then got Living Waters’ reps together with the pastor in Morazan who Johnson knows.
And with another surprise contact at a church in Nashville, Johnson found out that a group was already planning a trip to Honduras in three weeks and a possible additional upcoming trip in July. They said they would be happy to help install the Rotary’s current water project.
Those involved say it felt as if the entire project — money, equipment, contacts, personnel — all fell into place as if with divine help and guidance.
“It’s all coming together miraculously,” Johnson said.
The Living Waters project also sponsors special water seminars that train people with the knowledge they’ll need to help install a treatment plant such as the one in Morazan. It takes five days and a team of three people per project.
Johnson is asking people to volunteer for the training and for subsequent mission trips. Rodgers would like at least two water teams. Rodgers, Johnson and Sunrise Rotary group hope for these to be ongoing projects through the organization.
“If you believe it, it can happen,” Rodgers said.
Currently, five classes are scheduled: March 21-25, May 2-6, June 11-15, Sept. 5-9, and Oct. 7-11. Anyone — not just Rotarians — who is interested in taking the water courses can call Johnson at 472-5423 or Rodgers at 310-3118.