By Walter Hughes, grant chair for Rotary District 7570 and a member of the Rotary Club of Rocky Mount, Virginia, USA
What is our role as Rotarians? How big can we dream? Can Rotary be involved in eradication of Polio and Guinea Worm Disease from the world?
Over 80 Rotary clubs were part of the effort to eradicate the three-foot long parasite in Ghana. Could we do it again? Rotarian Kenny Lovelace and I went to South Sudan in October 2012 to find out.
We went on a “high adventure” trip that will be remembered for the rest of our lives. We took a humanitarian flight from Juba to Kapoeta before we drove around for two days to visit villages with the highest number of people suffering from Guinea Worm Disease. We drove on dirt roads built during World War II, dry river beds, ravines, and hiked to places without roads.
We camped. We saw beauty in places and people who suffered from war. We were inspired by the South Sudan Guinea Worm Eradication Program and Carter Center leaders who are dedicated to transforming the lives of people. It made us want to find a way to help.
We talked and built friendships with President Deng and the Juba Rotarians in the youngest country in Africa. We dreamed about providing clean water and a world without disease in spite of bad roads. Our work can give hope for the future and a foundation for peace. President Deng said “South Sudan is a big country with 619,745 square kilometers. The Juba Rotary Club can work to achieve this goal with the support of Rotary International and partnering Rotary Clubs.”
The impossible is possible when we build a team and accomplish something bigger than ourselves. We met with contractors and saw boreholes being drilled and repaired in the target communities. The boreholes will be expensive. We need your help. Please pledge to our effort to drill twenty boreholes in South Sudan.
The first matching grant will be approved by Christmas so we can drill the wells during the dry season months of January to March 2013. This work is made possible by your contributions to The Rotary Foundation. We will dedicate our effort to the Tamale, Ghana Rotarians who dared to dream of a world without Guinea Worm Disease and shared their dream with me.