The little ones were excited.
They gathered around the cups of water — the clean cups of water — to get their first sips.
The entire town — in Morazan, Honduras — had been anticipating this official opening for months.
Fiestas started several days before the actual opening day.
Three hundred showed up to celebrate having clean water for the very first time in the modern history of the town.
And, finally, the time had come.
But it was a long time in the making, said Dr. Bill Johnson from Surgical Associates of Cleveland. Johnson also is a Bradley Sunrise Rotarian. Since he joined the club, he has come to oversee the Sunrise Rotary water project, because of his extensive experience going on many mission trips before.
Johnson emphasized the importance of clean water. It helps eliminate parasites and prevents other bacteria from being digested, preventing health damage and poor nutrition. In fact, local residents are specifically trained to continue to educate neighbors on the importance of clean water.
But he was the first to admit at Thursday’s Rotary meeting he is only one small part of the many who helped make this clean water project a reality.
Rotary has donated money to help with the clean water project and to send volunteers to school and to the project site.
But digging a well can cost between $8,000 and $25,000, depending on how deep it needs to be dug. So, receiving grants, in addition to putting together PowerPoint presentations, were other crucial aspects of completing this first in what is hoped to be a long series of clean water projects sponsored by the Bradley Sunrise Rotary. Linda Record, another Sunrise Rotary member, was instrumental in helping write and obtain these grants.
Next, Johnson found out an organization called “Living Waters,” out of Nashville, had a clean water system ready to be installed, but didn’t have a location or the access.
Then the call went out for volunteers to travel to help facilitate the installation.
An installation usually includes creating and/or reinforcing a building and/or its roof, as well as running electricity and a water line, with enough water pressure in it, to the water cleaning station. A series of filters must then be installed, which need to be cleaned and/or replaced periodically.
So, Rotary has connected with a special school that will train its members in how to install the system, learn what problems they might encounter, as well as how to solve them.
But a permanent site person also is needed to be put into place in the host country to help maintain the clean water system once the Rotarians returned to the States.
It costs roughly $100 a year, once established, to maintain the clean water system, Johnson estimated.
The current systems usually can purify 500 gallons an hour. The stations are usually open about 20 hours a week.
“Now that it’s been done once,” Johnson said, “I’m convinced we can put this program together efficiently.”
The next projects being considered are at a school, a church, and a nutrition center.
Johnson has gone on previous mission trips with his church, the Broad Street United Methodist Church, but this first clean water project trip, as well his previous trips, also were made up of folks from many Cleveland/Bradley County churches.
“Someone was directing this” set of circumstances coming together the way it did, Johnson said, addressing the Sunrise Rotarians, as he looked skyward.
On Sept. 5, members of the Sunrise Rotary will hold a presentation at the Old Fort Restaurant to talk about international clean water project mission trips.
For more information, call Pat Fuller, president of the Sunrise Rotary, at 476-5805 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.