Rotarians lead way in helping Haiti

By IH Thursday 15 November 2012 Updated: 21/11 11:22

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Buy photos » Water of life - Malcolm Goodyear and Ken Linfoot. Picture by Jon Mullis. 46.012.034.strat.jm4 (

ROTARIANS in Stratford have led the way in raising over £200,00 to provide fresh drinking water for people in Haiti following the devastating earthquake which hit the country nearly three years ago.

Ken Linfoot, then president elect of Stratford Rotary, was shocked as many were by the news reports showing the destruction in the wake of the massive earthquake in January 2010, which killed some 31,000 people, and left a million homeless, in a country which was already one the world's poorest.

Ken wanted to do something to help, and the trigger came when an associate, Carlo Enrico Bravi, head of Italian charity GSF (Geologos sin Fronteras or Geologists without Frontiers), asked if there was any way to help support their project to provide safe drinking water to two districts of the Caribbean country severely affected by the earthquake.

Little could Ken have realised at the time just how successful the project would prove. Stratford Rotary donated an initial £5,000, from which the fund-raising effort snowballed, with rotary organisations across the world getting involved and contributing.

GSF is only a small organisation, and does not have reserves of money for projects, so each one has to be funded separately. All donations are pumped into the project with nothing being taken out for expenses, and Carlo himself does not receive any payment for his work.

GsF had been contacted by aid agencies, working with the mayors of two Haiti districts, asking for help, and after a visit to the country proposals were produced which would involve drilling five wells - at a total cost of £266,000.

Stratford Rotary agreed to support the provision of one well, costing £38,000, and a project team headed by Malcolm Goodyear set about sourcing the funds.

All clubs in Rotary District 1060 - the local area which includes Stratford Rotary - were approached and six agreed to contribute, which was added to by money from the so-called District Designated Funds (DDF), set up to provide disaster aid.

Malcolm had worked in the Bahamas for a number of years and contacted Diana White, a friend and, at that time also District Governor of Rotary District 7020 covering a large area of the Caribbean, including Haiti, who proved a great help raising further funds.

So successful was the fund-raising, Rotary was able to sponsor two wells instead of just the original one. Contracts with an experienced and reliable Haitian company were signed, which included the agreement for drilling to start by the middle of February this year, which it did, and the water was flowing from the taps by May.

The drilling of the wells in five villages now feeds seven water distribution systems providing 70,000 litres of clean fresh water a day.

The initial £5,000 from Stratford Rotary was the catalyst for a project costing well over £200,000 - an achievement Stratford Rotary is understandably proud of.

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Buy photos» Washing at one of the wells in Haiti. (s)

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Buy photos» Collecting water supplied with the help of the Rotary organisation. (s)

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