Fishers Rotary gets grant to build more wells in Sierra Leone


Fishers residents Jennie Keller, left, and husband Darren Keller with daughter Madi (middle) visited Sierra Leone communities with wells completed through the Fishers Rotary project in 2019. (Submitted photo)

The Rotary Club of Fishers got another boost in its mission to provide clean water to Sierra Leone.

Valory Myers, a past president of the Rotary Club of Fishers, said the group was recently awarded a grant from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International of $290,600 to fund the drilling of 25 water wells across Sierra Leone in different communities in the African nation.

“It is also to coordinate their water ministry, which is their government agency that is responsible for sanitation and doing the maintenance training,” she said. “Part of this grant is to build a water storage tank that provides piped water to a community near the capital of Freetown.”

Construction of the wells and water storage tank should begin in September, Myers said.

Myers, who has been to Sierra Leone three times, said the Water is Life project was started in 2008 by the Rotary Club of Fishers.

“A member of our club had gone there and shared the story of how much opportunity there was for Rotary to do some really good work,” Myers said. “One of the areas of focus for Rotary International is for water and sanitation. We saw we could make an impact there where in the rural areas 60 percent of people at that time did not have access to clean water. They were getting water from streams, ponds and other sources that weren’t protected or sanitary. It’s gotten better. Now across the country, 36 percent don’t have access to clean water.”

Myers said each well can serve an average of 750 people, approximately the population of a small village.

“We estimate between the 25 wells and water tank storage will probably serve over 20,000 people and prove them with clean drinking water for the first time,” said Myers, who lives in Lawrence Township.

Myers said the grant was the fifth from the Rotary Foundation, totaling more than $1 million Fishers Rotary has spent bringing water to Sierra Leone. The Fishers Rotary works in partnership with a Rotary club based in Freetown. Representatives from the club travel to Sierra Leone each year to see the wells are being maintained and the project is sustainable.

“We have people come from the Rotary Club in Freetown come every year,” Myers said. “The first Saturday in December we have our Water is Life charity ball. They come here to help us raise money for this project.”

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