EDITOR'S NOTE: The following report from the Rotary Club of Sanibel Captiva meeting at the Sanibel Community House on Friday, Oct. 30, was submitted by Shirley Jewell of the Rotary Club.

There are often questions directed to our Rotary Club members about how our club goes about deciding what projects will be funded by the Rotary Club of Sanibel-Captiva Trust, the giving arm of the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, each year.

Well primarily, our local giving concentrates on organizations and non-profits that have projects that benefit our local community. That can range from contributions to educational and health entities, broader community based social service organizations, environmentally focused non-profits, and cultural and historic organizations on Island and throughout Lee County.

However, the Rotary Club of Sanibel-Captiva Trust funds also have a broader reach throughout the world by partnering with Rotary Clubs around the globe on special projects that basically fall into the same categories. The split between local and global financial support is about 50/50. All requests for local funding are sponsored by Sanibel-Captiva Rotary members and are reviewed and measured on possible outcome by our seven member Trust Fund Board.  Global giving can be requested in this same manner but Rotary International encourages the partnering of Rotary Clubs around the world to form alliances on projects that require higher financial investment. The broad reach and scope of these projects are amazing.

This past week we had a report from Sanibel-Captiva Rotarian and Rotary International Foundation Representative Chet Sadler on an important Rotary/World Fund clean-water project in Haiti that the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club has entered into with the Hitchin Tilehouse, England Rotary Club and Saint Marc, Haiti, Rotary Club. As most of us know, after the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti the clean water supply in certain areas of the country was compromised and sanitation within the earthquake territories was non-existent. A widespread cholera epidemic broke out, probably introduced by foreign aid workers.  Cholera most often affects poor countries with limited access to clean water and proper sanitation. More than 8,000 people died from the cholera outbreak and it infected tens of thousands more. 

Although almost six years have passed, sanitation and clean water problems still exist in Haiti.  Hitchin Tilehouse Rotary Club, England sent aid to Haiti after the earthquake and in 2011 and 2013 members of the club visited Haiti and villages along the polluted Artibonite River and observed the living conditions and sanitation conditions in Ducas, Haiti.  Today villages still are relying on the river for their water supply.  A decision was made in 2013 by Tilehouse Hitchin club members to raise funds to install urgently needed filtration and chlorination units in at least two villages along the Artibonite River.  

Sanibel-Captiva Rotary became involved in 2013, when a member of the Tilehouse Hitchin Rotary Club visited Sanibel and attended one of our Friday morning meetings…he introduced himself and his home club’s water project in Haiti. Chet Sadler immediately connected with this club, our Club Board and Trust Board reviewed the project and joined in on this project with Hitchin Tilehouse, England; St Marc, Haiti Rotaries and Water Missions International, a US-based global charity which specializes in the provision of clean water in many of the world’s poorest countries.

This joint project would build water treatment tanks in the community of Ducas, Artibonite, Haiti…approximate population 4,500.

Water purification systems reduce waterborne disease by removing pathogens and treat 10 gallons per minute, as much as 10,000 gallons per day.  “Basically the raw water is pumped from the river, mixed with alum settled in the Alum mix tank.  It then goes into a filtering tank for large particles and another filter tank for small particles. Both of these filters are engineered to be back flushed for cleaning with the super clean water. This is very important because all the particles could foul the filters if they are not cleaned properly. Finally the clean ready to drink water is pumped to a 275-gallon storage tank. When no electricity is available, solar panels are used to run filtering system”, Chet said. The water is then sold for two cents per five gallons, defraying the cost to maintain filter system.

The cost of this project was budgeted at $44,532…Hachin Tilehouse $10,400, Sanibel-Captiva $2,500, St Marc $100…matched by Rotary District Designated Fund (DDF) $13,000 and World Fund Match $19,500=$45,500. 

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary meets at 7 a.m. Friday mornings at the Sanibel Community House, Periwinkle Way. Guests are always welcomed.