Tri-City Rotarians learn about global needs
Helping others is what Rotary clubs do best. At a recent meeting, members of the Tri-City Rotary Clubs had a chance to learn how they could help others beyond the local community.
The clubs -- Geneva, Batavia, and both St. Charles Clubs (Breakfast and Noon) -- recently met at the St. Charles Hotel Baker for a combined breakfast meeting. Speakers at this meeting were Greg Bachman of Lifewater International and Miguel Perez, a foreign exchange student from Mexico.
Lifewater International's motto is "Safe Water for Life, Cultivating hope through safe water, sanitation, and hygiene." Greg Bachman is a volunteer with Lifewater International and has traveled around the globe providing training to nationals on basic technologies to access safe, sustainable drinking water. This is carried out with a focus on sustainability through technologies such as: biosand filters, hand pump repair, shallow well drilling, sanitation and hygiene. He has worked for over 30 years in industrial water purification and is currently the director of technology and lab services for Siemens Industry Inc. Water Division in Rockford.
Bachman began his talk by painting a pretty dismal world picture: Imagine being one of the one billion people without safe water to drink; walking for miles to a water source and then returning home with up to 40 pounds of unsafe water -- as millions of women and children do every day; living without a toilet, like over two billion people in our world; and being among the 4 million parents who will lose a child this year to water-related disease.
He updated the Rotarians that Lifewater International is a Christian nonprofit organization that demonstrates God's love by helping communities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America gain safe water, adequate sanitation, and effective hygiene practices that people can use for generations. Lifewater achieves these goals by equipping partner organizations and works with them to empower communities in developing countries to gain safe water, adequate sanitation, effective hygiene, and the knowledge of Jesus' love.
The core problem, according to Bachman, is that the lack of sanitation contaminates drinking water and thereby robs people of their dignity. He said more than 2.6 billion people live without adequate sanitation, amounting to 42 percent of the world's population. Poor sanitation increases the risk of disease outbreaks: typhoid, cholera, trachoma, and dysentery, which results in a child dying every 15 seconds from water-related diseases. Worldwide this amounts to nearly 6,000 deaths every day, he said.
The key to helping people around the world is to focus on sustainability. Lifewater and its qualified volunteer field trainers equip in-country partner organizations in the three crucial components of water development: water, sanitation, and hygiene. The partner organizations then use Lifewater training and resources to help local communities meet their basic water and sanitation needs. Through this, they gain confidence in their own ability to nurture the health and well-being of their people.
Anyone can learn more about the global water crisis and the many ways that they can help by visiting Lifewater's website: lifewater.org. Also find out about campaigns such as Water Bill Match, Alternative Giving, Team Lifewater, and Significant Sacrifice and about becoming a Lifewater field trainer.
Another kind of world need was addressed by a "Blanket Drive" led by Miguel Perez, a foreign exchange student staying with Mark Billings, the assistant rotary governor, who is a member of the Elgin Rotary Club.
Miguel asked Rotary clubs to donate clean, new or gently used blankets. This drive united six area Rotary clubs in one international community service project. Clubs included: St. Charles Breakfast and Noon, Batavia, Geneva, Elgin Breakfast and, in Mexico, the Rotary Club of San Marcos in Aguascalientes, Mexico. The blankets will benefit a poor community near Aguascalientes, which is in north central Mexico.
Miguel, who is hosted by the Elgin Breakfast club, organized this drive. He is one of 17 youth exchange students in Rotary District 6440 during this school year. His goal is to collect and ship 100 blankets in this great project to those people in need.
Rotary International is a global service organization with 1.2 million members in 34,000 Rotary clubs in 200 countries and geographic areas. Members are men and women who are business, professional and community leaders with a shared commitment to make the world a better place.
The Noon Rotary Club of St. Charles meets at noon Thursdays at Bistro One West, 1 Illinois St. in St. Charles. For information, call Dustin Hawkins, (630) 584-2255.
The St. Charles Breakfast Rotary Club meets at 7 a.m. Tuesdays. For details, call club President Tassie Brautigam at (630) 222-6311. The Geneva Rotary Club meets at 7 a.m. For information, call club President Kathy Melone at (630) 723-1990.
The Batavia Rotary Club meets 7:15 a.m. For details, call club President Tim Wulff at (630) 879-0111.