Four McMinnville Breakfast Rotary Club members have embarked on an African adventure.
The group is heading to Namibia to help at a school, wildlife preserve, and a clinic. They will also help supply the area with a filtration system.
“Namibia is situated between the Namib and the Kalahari deserts,” said Breakfast Rotary member Rachel Killebrew. “As you can imagine, there isn’t much water in the desert. Rotary International’s objective over the next 20 years is to get every person in the world clean water.”
Namibia is the country with the least rainfall in sub-Saharan Africa. With limited rain, sparse transportation, and poor accessibility, it is imperative that every rain drop available be saved.
“I wrote a grant so McMinnville Breakfast Rotary Club could supply the clinic with additional water,” said Killebrew. “We are putting gutters on the roof of the clinic to collect water in barrels. The water will pass through a filtration system as it enters the clinic. Our first water-related grant put a well in Uganda. It was a very rewarding experience.”
McMinnville Breakfast Rotary must have fundraisers to generate money for the system and installation. Then, after the system is successfully completed and in working condition, the club will get a matching portion of money from Rotary International through a District 6780 grant.
The clinic’s current water filtration system filters water from the main supply and relies on adequate water pressure, which is a rare occurrence. In addition, the line frequently gets blocked due to the salty content of the main water supply, and needs regular replacement parts which must be ordered from Austria. The system is said to be time consuming, expensive and unreliable.
Rainfall, which is collected in the existing tank, is not filtered. It is used mainly for flushing toilets and watering plants.
“The plans are to build additional tanks with a filtration system to help collect every drop of rain possible,” said Killebrew. “As you can imagine, in the desert every drop of rain is precious.”
The new water filtration system will be a great benefit to the clinic. The clinic’s mission is to provide health care at no cost. Lifeline Clinic provides treatment to over 3,500 individuals annually. Forty percent of their patients are children. For those needing more serious care, the clinic offers transportation to the nearest hospital over 120 miles away.
Recently, Breakfast Rotarians were greeted by the clinic operators via Skype. A detailed presentation on the clinic and the adjacent animal sanctuary caught the interest of many members of the club who made the decision to visit Africa with some of their family members and volunteer at either the clinic, school or wildlife preserve.
Taking the trip are Pat Bigbee, Neal Cox, Rachel Kirby, Emily Phillips, Katherine Denton, Dave Messina and Killebrew.
“I’ve been to Africa,” said Killebrew. “I fell in love with it. I can’t wait to go back.”
Dr. Rudie van Vuuren, his wife Marlice, and pharmacist friend Chris Heunis started Lifeline Clinic in 2003. Along with medical care, they focus on education of the children with outreach programs at local schools. Rudie is the brother of McMinnville resident Pieter van Vuuren, who is president of First National Bank.
The clinic, based in Epukiro in the east of Namibia, began as a monthly outreach service provided by the doctors and pharmacists who traveled from the capital city Windhoek to provide free healthcare to the San community. The San community in Namibia lives in extreme poverty.
The San community is considered to be the oldest culture in the world and its residents are traditionally hunter-gatherers. They have been forced from their original lands, leaving the San unable to survive in their traditional lifestyle. Many San children suffer from malnutrition, disease, discrimination and abuse. Adult onset diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer are sharply increasing and alcoholism has become prevalent.
Stay tuned to the Breakfast Rotary website www.breakfastrotary.org and Facebook for progress reports on the group’s adventure in Africa.