Imagine, for a moment, that you and your children have no access to healthy, clean water. You and your daughter or son have to walk miles, twice a day, to collect contaminated water in heavy jerry cans to be used for your cooking, washing and bathing. As you continue this daily ritual, you understand that 1 in 5 children under five years of age, and many adults, are dying from parasites that even boiling the water cannot not stop. Yet you continue, because no one can survive without water; and the water you collect is the only water available to your village. Your children carry water instead of being in school each day. There is little hope for an education for them, or a future for your family.
This scenario is hard to imagine for us living in the comforts of Laguna Niguel. But it’s very real. According to the World Health Organization, a child dies every 21 seconds from a waterborne illness; and there are 860 million people in the world that don’t have access to even the most basic water services.
A lack of access to safe water and sanitation significantly affects the health of women as well. Burdened daily by water collection, women and girls spend large amounts of time carrying heavy vessels and walking long distances. The physical strain of these activities impacts their health and, if pregnant, the health of their unborn children.
There is a group in our community working to help. Among a wide variety of other community service projects, the Rotary Club of Laguna Niguel has been working closely with the Irvine-based Wells of Life organization to bring clean water to villages in Uganda, Africa, so desperately trying to survive. Your Laguna Niguel Rotary Club donates $6,000 to fund each clean water it opens.
Wells of Life has constructed over 500 clean water wells so far; and it is well on its way to reaching its goal of 1000. In partnership with the Wells of Life organization, the Laguna Niguel Rotary Club intends to fund at least one or more wells per year. Rotary International has embraced the concept of bringing clean water to the world as well. In fact, Clean Water has been designated as its primary goal via 1.2 million Rotarians in 35,000 Rotary Clubs in more than 200 countries.
So far, the Laguna Niguel Rotary Club has opened two wells to these villages: Well #288 in 2017 and #480 in 2019. One village, Butawata B, in the Mubende District of Uganda received its well on September 23, 2017. Now this well is providing clean, potable water to 1,530 people in the village. Children and adults are no longer sick and dying from contaminated ground water. Children in the village no longer have to carry water and can now attend school. This is a tremendous program and it’s great to know that our community is making a difference!
In the Mityana District of Uganda, the village of Wabinyira also thanks the Laguna Niguel Rotary Club for their clean water. Since November 29, 2019, clean water well #480 has been providing health and survival to 1,015 people of the village.
The joy you can see in the photos is unlike anything we have experienced in this country because clean water is not just a luxury, it truly means life and survival of these people. The most fundamental need for survival has been provided by drilling relatively shallow wells of only 75 to 100 feet in depth to tap the huge water aquifer that exists.
Wells of Life has a team of fifteen full-time people in Uganda providing all the coordination with the villages. The organization not only constructs the water wells, but also runs a program called WASH that teaches the villagers the critical importance of sanitation practices in their day to day living.
The Rotary Club’s motto is “Service Above Self” and its focus on clean water and sanitation for the poorest people of Uganda, Africa is certainly a fulfillment of that Rotary Club motto. Our local club is a proud member of Rotary International—a global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves. Its mission is to provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through a fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.
Other Laguna Niguel Rotary Club projects include giving free dictionaries to every third-grade student in the City. Laguna Niguel Rotary also plants trees on Arbor day and holds a free dental clinic each year to serve families who need treatment, but cannot afford it.
The Laguna Niguel Rotary Club is always looking for new members. If you are looking for a great way to serve our community, Rotary would love to have you! The Club meets weekly noon to 1:30pm at Fratello’s Restaurant at 31371 Niguel Road, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677. Currently, these lunch meetings take place every Tuesday. However, starting April 17th, they will move to Fridays. lagunaniguelrotaryclub.com