Clean water is something we take for granted. Not so in sub-Saharan Africa which was the focus of the well project organised by the Rotary Club of Melton Mowbray Belvoir.
The Mali well project began when Rotarian Derek Simmonds and John Milner, a talented local artist, produced a superb illustrated history of the Leicestershire town’s ancient market.
Hugh Brown, Chief Executive of Melton Market, liked John’s work so much that he stumped up £2,000.
Derek saw an opportunity to use this money to do something to a support a farming community in the less-developed world.
Fellow Melton Mowbray Rotarian, Debbie Hutchinson, is the chair of Joliba Trust, a charity which works with farming communities in Mali.
At that time, the Joliba Trust was desperate to help a village on the edge of the Sahara which had suffered the collapse of its only well.
This meant that the villagers, mainly children and women, had to make a gruelling six kilometre round trip to compete with livestock for water from a foul pond. As a result, for the children who had to make several trips each day, this meant that attendance at the village primary school collapsed. There was a threat that the government would close the school as a result.
The £2,000 was the core. A District Foundation matching grant provided a further £2,000, private donations and Melton Mowbray’s Inner Wheel Club provided the rest of the £6,729 needed to drill and blast down 47 metres to furnish a new wellhead in Mali.
Villagers are delighted with the new well. Bréhima Seiba, son of the village chief, offered his thanks to both the Joliba Trust and Rotarians.
He said: “We are very happy. Now we have enough water for ourselves and our livestock. We no longer need to go six kilometres to find water.
“All this drudgery is over and the well contains enough water to satisfy our needs. We are so grateful for the well.”
And villager, Anta Seiba, predicted that the new well will transform their lives. She said: “We women of the village are so happy that we cannot find words to express it.
“If there was security we would organize a big dance to thank Djoliba and their funding partners. We now have clean water available.
“We no longer need to travel to get water. Now I can start collecting water at 8am and by 9am I have enough water for the whole family. I no longer need help.
“We can go to the market in town. This year our village had a good harvest. We are going to raise sheep. I am going to sell okra so that I can buy a ram lamb.
“Many of the women are all planning to buy sheep to raise now that there is water for them.
“We join the voices of our husbands to thank you and thank you again.”
Rotarian Paul Dickinson pointed out how the success of the project was down to collaboration. He said: “We are delighted that the well is operating, the school filling again and the lives of the villagers enhanced by Rotarians, local people and Inner Wheel working together
Paul pointed out that the project was a major achievement in a country where there is currently a major United Nations’ peacekeeping mission, as well as a multinational counterterrorism force to combat the rising threat of extremist groups across the Sahel linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State fighters.
Providing clean water is one of the main causes Rotary supports. Find out more information here