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Rotary Provides Fresh Water in Zambia
In 2017, The Rotary Club of Sleaford Kesteven kindly supported the charity Village Water with a grant of £2,300 from the club and this was doubled on the ‘Big Give’ – through the national Rotary movement. The wonderful donation enabled the charity to transform Sinungu Basic School in Zambia. It is large by rural standards with 502 pupils attending from 33 surrounding villages. When first visited, there was no access to safe water with pupils and teachers relying on an unprotected well, situated 500 metres away from the school at the edge of a flood plain. During the rainy season, the well would fill with ground water and this was particularly concerning as the school and surrounding communities were still practicing open defecation and ground water run-off containing pollutants was able to enter the well.
A 17 year old a pupil at the school, said how this had affected the school: ’Since 2006, our source of drinking water has been an unprotected well. The water from the well was not safe and clean due to the fact that it is submerged with contaminated water from the flood plain during the rainy season. The water becomes very dirty and small worms are usually noticed. As a result, waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea in both pupils and teachers is experienced. This tends to increase the absentee rate among pupils.’
Hygiene & Sanitation Promotion Field staff from the charity assessed the school for general cleanliness of the classrooms, toilets and the school grounds, and checked the number and use of sanitation facilities. The school surroundings were fairly clean and they and they already had six latrines and 4 handwashing stations however these were very dirty, and the ‘pit’ of the latrine wasn’t covered. This was unhygienic and can make the toilets very smelly and attract flies, this could be why open defecation was still being practiced. Hygiene and sanitation training promotion sessions were held in May 2017, and were attended by all teachers and pupils and were also open to surrounding community members. The training covered:
- Prevention of disease through good hygiene and sanitation facilities
- Demonstrations on how to build no cost sanitation facilities
- Menstrual hygiene education sessions, for boys and girls (grade 4 and above)
The training was well received, particularly menstrual hygiene management (MHM), which had never been addressed at the school before. The staff knew there was a need to break down the stigma surrounding menstruation as it was affecting attendance but they didn’t know how to approach it.
Head Teacher Mr Namakando Wamulume said: ‘Water and sanitation has a very big impact on our activities as a school, that lack of safe source of water makes us take a lot of time working on our water to make it fit for consumption. We’re grateful for the lessons that have been taught on hygiene and sanitation as we have been reminded and revived to put all required facilities to ensure total sanitation and thus improve our health. MHM is one area we have appreciated as we never knew how to implement it in school.’
The new well was drilled in October 2017, the water table was found at 10 metres but the well was rota jetted to a depth of 27 metres to future proof it against global warming and changing water levels. The borehole is fitted with an India Mark II handpump, which is working perfectly, it fills a 20Lit container in 52 strokes and produces water after just 1 stroke. The water quality tests were good and there was no smell produced from the water. The school have started a water committee, they received pump maintenance training and a toolkit. They have been reminded to start a maintenance fund to ensure they are able to fund any future repairs that may be needed. As the local community are also using the water it has been suggested that a small fee is collected and saved for this.
‘We’re grateful for your help to our school, it wasn’t easy for us to operate without a source of clean water,” said the Headmaster. “The open well was situated far down and pupils would wander around the school with no water. Now that the hand pump is installed, water is readily available, we can just say thank you Village Water for your help. Diseases have reduced and the attendance is improving.”
During each visit the local team carried out surveys to check on school cleanliness, hygiene practices, the availability of sanitation facilities and the impact these were having on the pupil’s health. During the last visit field staff reported that school cleanliness had improved in every area. We were also pleased to see that the six latrines had been cleaned and now had lids making them much more hygienic. Field staff will continue to monitor the changes at the school and where needed reinforce hygiene and sanitation messages.
Following his talk to the Club earlier in the year, we all went to Roger Pykett’s farm to the west of Newark to see how his diversity in farming is progressing. We saw the solar farm (power), woods (product for biomass boiler), lakes (caravanning and fishing), fields (sugar beet and corn), plus lorry and caravan storage. Transport in the form of Corporal Jones’ trailer was provided!
Last Friday, the Club held its 25th annual charter celebration. The event took place at the Dower House in Woodhall Spa and was attended by around 90 Rotarians and guests. New President Graeme Morrice was presented with a certificate honouring 25 years of Rotary membership by the 1070 District Governor Chris Davies accompanied by one of the Club’s founder members, Dick Parsley.
For a number of years, the Club has provided a bed in the St Luke’s Leprosarium at Peikulam, Tamil Nadu in the Thoothukudi-Nazareth Diocese of the Church of South India. (http://www.stlukesleprosyhospital.org)
It is a referral centre for leprosy patients suffering from complications that cannot be managed elsewhere and offers a cure and treatment for the disease. Dedicated and qualified staff who understand the sufferers’ needs, be they the actual suffering from the disease or the social stigmas that are still attached to leprosy, bring hope into lives that were formerly filled with despair. There are two wards for men and one for women, each having 32 beds. These in-patients receive free treatment, food, accommodation and clothing.
- Leprosy is a bacterial disease which affects the skin and nerves
- The first sign of leprosy is usually a patch of discoloured skin
- If left untreated, leprosy causes loss of sensation, paralysis, ulcers and infections, which can lead to blindness and amputation
- 600 people are diagnosed each day and 50 of these are children
- We believe over 3 million people are living with undiagnosed leprosy
- Over 4 million people are living with a disability caused by leprosy
- Leprosy carries a terrible stigma; often people are shunned by communities, or even their own family when they show symptoms
- Leprosy affects men and women in the ratio of 2:1. The general plight of the leprosy patient is desperate but for female sufferers the situation is tragic. A wife will support a sick husband but a man will often abandon his sick wife plus their children who are usually healthy.
- The club has raised money from the proceeds of our Santa’s Sleigh (in conjunction with Round Table) and our Sleaford Christmas Market Stall in December 2016.
- Two mobility devices were purchased to assist staff at the Leprosarium commute to work and go about their duties at a cost of £1920. This includes a grant of £924 from District.
- Mrs Amali required an electric wheel chair to help her general mobility around the Leprosarium and her home. It helps her carry out her job at the Leprosarium and makes it easier to look after her family.
- Mrs Rajeshwari required a three-wheeled mobility scooter to help her get to work and to carry out her duties in the community in support of the Leprosarium.
- Both ladies have suffered from leprosy and Mrs Amali from Polio too.