Columbia rotary clubs raise money for well in Africa

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 | 7:32 p.m. CDT; updated 10:47 a.m. CDT, Monday, September 26, 2011
Residents of the village of Dam allam Koira in Niger pump water from their new well funded by Columbia Rotarians.

COLUMBIA — Residents of the small village of Dam allam Koira in Niger used to travel on foot for miles to get clean water. But they don’t have to anymore.

At the end of August, a freshwater well was built in the village, funded by the Rotary Clubs of Columbia Metro, Sunrise Southwest and Northwest.

The well cost about $2,000 to install. Columbia Metro donated $1,000, and Sunrise Southwest and Northwest each donated $500, according to a news release by Norm Benedict, co-chair of the public relations committee of Columbia Metro.

The money was raised in July, and on Aug. 30, Tom O’Connor, the Rotary district chairman of Water, Health and Hunger, was informed that the construction had been completed.

The local residents in Niger who built the well were excited, so they built it fast, O’Connor said.

Water contamination kills thousands of children in Niger, O'Connor said. Before the Rotary Clubs funded the well, the villagers in Dam allam Koira were on the hunt for clean water all the time. Sometimes they could find streams, which are undependable because they often dry out. Sometimes they dug pits by hand, hoping water would come up.

Now, 40 to 50 families, or 200 to 300 people, can benefit from the modest-sized well, O’Connor said.

He said the people there are happy and grateful.

“We are happy and grateful, too. We did a good cause that was cheap but could benefit people in a distant land,” he said.

The Rotary Clubs have been working on an exchange program for at least 10 years, trying to build one or two wells per year in villages of poor rural countries, Benedict said.

The Rotary Clubs have a global network of community volunteers to provide humanitarian service and promote goodwill and peace, according to Benedict’s news release.

“We’re always looking for ways to give money for good causes, both in the U.S. and in the world, to make people’s life better,” he said.

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