Since the early part of January 2010, the eyes of the world have focused on Haiti and the devastation a magnitude 7.0 earthquake left on this tiny island country.
Rotary International was there immediately and distributed thousands of shelter box tents throughout the capital city of Port Au Prince and some surrounding areas; but Rotary Clubs across the world had already been working in Haiti before the earthquake on projects ranging from sourcing of clean water, building schools, bringing in hospital supplies and providing much needed food.
There was an even greater need for these items after the earthquake and the connections established throughout Haiti helped Rotary to continue their efforts and provide avenues of service even beyond the original scope.
The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, led by Chet Sadler has been working on a water project in Haiti for a couple of years now. Last March, the club had established a partnership with Missionary Enterprises founded by Harold Hanson of Shell Point and the Sanibel Community Church. They had begun a project in Haiti at Haute St Marc School, St. Marc, Haiti.
The project involved bringing in urgently needed food (rice and beans, sometime this is the only meal of the day for St. Marc’s students and school workers); helping to build a second story to their existing elementary school, which will house middle and high school students; and providing a water supply (either by digging wells or providing underground water tank storage) for the school and the surrounding community.
The tie-in for our Rotary club was providing a source of clean water. Presently, clean water is carried to the school by donkey in plastic containers holding about 20 gallons at a time. This water is for drinking and cooking. Toilet facilities are a separate issue.
Throughout last year, Chet explored the feasibility of the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club drilling a well or building a water pipe-line system from a close by spring to the school. Neither option panned out. It was not until a trip to Haiti after the earthquake, that Chet was able to work out an arrangement with the local water department to tap into an existing water line down the hill from the school and pump the water to the school site.
Chet worked hard and long on this project and the water pipeline should start flowing soon. Running water will also bring with it the possibility of the construction of a separate restroom facility.
Chet had in hand last week at our meeting the architectural drawings for the new restroom facility at St. Marc School. This would definitely be an improvement over the one-seater outbuilding toilet now servicing the near one thousand students, facility, and support staff at the school. This facility will house separate area restrooms that include Girls-7 toilets and sinks, Boys-3 Toilets, urinals and sinks, Teachers-2 toilets, sinks and showers.
The approximate building costs for this building will be nearly $40,000; the Sanibel-Rotary Club will contribute $5,000, matching gift from an unnamed Captiva resident of $5,000, this $10,000 then goes to our Rotary District #6960 and matched again to $20,000, and finally matched at our National level to a total of $40,000. This sounds a little convoluted, but it works.
One of the other reasons Chet went down to Haiti after the earthquake was that while working on this water project and waiting for a resolution regarding the project the club pledged to provide a number of beans and rice meal packages, along with building materials for St. Marc School. The container was stalled on the docks and had not been delivered before the earthquake. They needed to be released. This shipping container also contained building supplies for the construction of a second story classroom addition at St. Marc to be built by the Sanibel Community Church and Missionary Enterprises.
Wearing a couple of hats, the Rotary hat and the Sanibel Community Church Hat, Chet accomplished quite a bit while in Haiti. He met with government officials, local water departments, St. Marc Rotary Club, and number of other business professionals while on the island.
The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary has provided $1,000 of support for Beans and Rice in Haiti for St. Marc, $3,000 for ten thousand meals for Real Hope for Haiti, fifty containers of sardines, and $1,800 for shipping container facilitation.
“Diseases will continue without sanitation and malnutrition will persist without reliable food supplies and clean water.” The people of Haiti are important to Rotary and our club is doing a small part in improving the living conditions in this tiny Island not too far from home.
The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club meets at 7 a.m. on Fridays at The Beachview Restaurant, located on Par View Drive.