The water was filthy looking and was contained in a gigantic, funnel-like jar, open to the elements, said Marni Kendricks, assistant dean for undergraduate academics at the School of Engineering at the University of Mississippi.
Anything could — and did — fall into the water.
Tests for bacteria turned bright yellow, confirming that the water was full of bacteria.
“Children, especially, have a hard time,” Kendricks said. Diarrhea is a daily issue.
“It’s a heart-breaking thing,” she admitted.
But the children still always were friendly and happy. They always followed these visitors around wherever they went, Kendricks added, as she related her adventures with the univerisity’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders to the Bradley Sunrise Rotary members Thursday.
Engineers Without Borders has partnered with Rotary International currently to help Pastor Kokou Loko from Togo, West Africa, as well as others, in whatever way possible with such projects as digging a well for clean water — must go down below 450 feet, treating shallow water, being able to provide irrigation water for crops, especially for currently hard to get fruits and vegetables, a good and safe source of protein, and/or building a school so the 300 children from the village and surrounding areas finally have a place to learn, or a medical facility, or possibly even a fish farm.
“Pastor Loko has a dream,” Kendricks acknowledged.
Togo has some dire statistics that would be greatly improved with clean water and better food for proper nutrition. These conditions help to create this country’s 10 percent infant death rate, Kendricks said. Children are consistently underweight due in large part to the large amount of starchy corn in their diet. A lack of a safe sewer system and clean water also recreates serious health risks.
“Whatever they think their needs are,” Kendricks told the assembled crowd. “But their greatest need is clean water, a clean well.”
Pastor Loko was a student at the University of Mississippi and has worked with people from the states, including from the Sunrise Rotary here in Cleveland and Engineers Without Borders in Mississippi, to try to bring improvements to his village for many years now.
Kendricks has been speaking to several individual Rotary groups, as well as churches, for a while now to try to raise funds and get more volunteers to help with Engineers Without Borders projects for these and other long-term, high-impact problems that are sustainable and whose benefits will last long after Rotary completes a project.
Alvin Word, a member of the Bradley Sunrise Rotary, who sponsored Thursday’s program, also is dedicated to the cause, having gone on some of Engineers Without Borders’ mission trips.
In other business:
- Two more new members, Chuck Guy, a master tax adviser and office manager at H&R Block, and Jonathan Wagner, the owner of an online health food store called Choose to be Healthy, were inducted into the Bradley Sunrise Rotary Thursday.
- The last two checks from money raised at this year’s Sunrise Gala yearly fundraiser were given out Thursday. One for $3,000 was given to Steve Poteet, director of development at Spirit Horse Therapeutic Riding at Black Fox, which helps families with special needs children, and another for $2,000 was given to Robin Nation, executive director of Woman At The Well, which helps encourage, strengthen, inspire, and empower women, with a potential additional $3,000 donation available when the organization raises matching funds. A total of $53,000 raised by the Gala was designated to be donated to local area service organizations.