By James Feichtner
Water is essential to life, and while we may take it for granted here in America, there are places like Sierra Leone, Africa that don’t readily have access to clean water. Yet even though Sierra Leone may be more than a day’s worth of traveling away, Fishers Rotary, a non-profit organization, has still managed to make an impact on the country, providing dozens of communities with clean water through installed water wells.
Rotary’s Water for Life campaign was started in 2009 by local Fishers Rotarians in an effort to supply Sierra Leone, a country recovering from a civil war, with clean water through water wells.
“This will be our fourth year,” said Fishers Rotarian Valory Meyers. “We did our first project in 2008 in Africa in Nigeria and it was a water tower at a school because they didn’t have a fresh water source. Kids weren’t going to school because they had to fetch water at their home. As soon as they installed the water at the school they were able to go to school. That really got the club interested in how water can be life changing for these communities.”
The Water for Life campaign began when Valery and several other Rotarians wanted to take on a campaign that could be continued for more than a year. By focusing all their efforts on a single country, the impact would be greater. Sierra Leone, about the same size as Indiana, seemed like the perfect target.
“We were looking for a longer-term project to get involved with versus just one project and then on to the next,” Valery said. “There’s a huge need for water across (Sierra Leone), from east to west. We really realized by focusing our efforts in a smaller country, about the size of Indiana, that we can make a big impact.”
The campaign was a three-year initiative for the club.
“We thought we should set a goal, a big, audacious goal that’s going to inspire and motivate people,” Valery said. “We thought maybe we should do five wells or 10 wells, but that’s not very inspiring and then we all looked at each other and said, ‘What about 100?’ Our club had never done anything like that and so we thought we’d try it.”
Just last year, that goal was completed as the club, in partnership with local Sierra Leone Rotary clubs, Heartland Church and World Hope foundation, finished its 100th water well in the country.
The impact the wells have had on the country is enormous. Valory and her husband Chuck have both seen first-hand how clean water affects these communities. Experiencing it in-person was so powerful it even convinced Chuck to join Fishers Rotary.
“The joy of just getting water in a well, just in your neighborhood; the joy that it brought these people was just amazing,” Chuck said. “After that I said, ‘I think I need to join Rotary.’ I knew they were doing good things, but I didn’t know they were actually changing the world. The way that we affected those people was just amazing. I felt I had to be a part of this now and I’ve been a part ever sense.”
Now that Water for Life has completed it’s first 100 wells in Sierra Leone, the club is now striving to put another 100 wells in the country. To kick off their next Water for Life campaign, Fishers Rotary is hosting a Charity Ball.
“It’s the best party in Fishers,” Valery said. “Everyone gets together, you dress up and the holidays are starting to kick off. We talk a little bit about the project but we’re there to have a good time and celebrate each other. It’s a rare opportunity to be a part of something like this. It’s not everyday you get to save lives. I’m not a doctor or nurse so I love that as a business person I can be a part of this and have a good time and raise money for this project.”
The fundraising event will benefit the Water is Life campaign supporting Fishers Rotary’s goal of bringing water to another 100,000 people in Sierra Leone. Taking place on Dec. 5, the event will feature live entertainment, dinner, dancing, a live and silent auction. There are various ways to donate to the campaign.
For more information, to purchase tickets or to donate, visit FishersRotaryWaterisLife.org
About the Charity Ball
Where: Forum Corporate Conference Center, 11313 USA Pkwy.
When: Dec. 5. Doors open at 5:30. RSVP by Dec. 1
Who: Anyone interested in donating to the Water is Life campaign
Price: $100 per person
Attire: Holiday festive, black tie optional
Features: Silent and live auction, live entertainment by The Stardusters Orchestra, three course meal, dessert, drinks and dancing.