RANCHO SANTA FE — The Rancho Santa Fe Rotary Club presented a plaque to the William H. Donner Foundation, which provided a $50,000 grant to Water For Sudan, a program that drills wells, providing fresh water to the people of Southern Sudan.
“As a result of this current funding, we have now drilled 75 wells providing clean water to over 200,000 people and more importantly will have saved the lives of over 2,000 children given past statistics of deaths due to waterborne diseases,” said Ole Prahm, spokesman for the Rotary.
Stephanie Hanson, who accepted the plaque at the Rotary’s June 14 meeting on behalf of the foundation, said she was honored to recommend this very worthy project to the board, because so many people can be helped with such a small amount of money.
Each well costs about $13,500, Prahm said. “Additionally these wells eliminate the need for women and children to walk up to four hours each way to collect polluted water from distant rivers.”
Water for Sudan was started by the Penfield, N.Y., Rotary Club and Salva Dut, one of the “Lost Boys” from Southern Sudan who became president of the organization.
The goal was for him to return to Southern Sudan after about 20 years of civil war, and after a peace accord was brokered with the North Sudanese government, to drill water wells so that villagers could once again return to their homes to live, Prahm said. The Lost Boys, about 27,000 of them, were displaced or orphaned during the Sudanese Civil War between 1982 and 2005 when government troops attacked their villages. The International Rescue Committee sent many of them to the United States.
“Salva Dut was one of those refugees who eventually got lucky and his name was drawn to be sent to the United States in 2001 just before 9/11.” Prahm said.
Salva did not know if his parents and family were dead or alive until years later when he was informed that his father was dying, Prahm said.
“Salva was able to travel to see his father who was then gravely ill from waterborne disease and Salva made it his goal to return again one day and drill a water well for his father’s village to provide clean, potable, water,” he said.
Prahm said the Rancho Santa Fe Rotary became interested in providing one well because of fellow Rotarian Dep Tuany. Tuany had escaped his village in the upper Nile area of Southern Sudan to Ethiopia with his wife and firstborn child who died due to a waterborne disease during their travels.
Prahm said he believed the club should not embark on drilling this one well without determining if any other Rotary clubs were working on the same project.
“It was then I discovered the www.waterforsudan.org that already existed,” he said.
As a result, the Rancho Santa Fe club partnered with the Penfield, N.Y., club and have aided in the drilling for the past two drilling seasons. The Rancho Santa Fe club has raised more than $275,000 over the past three years.
Tuany, who called the wells, “a miracle,” said that the lack of clean drinking water results in blindness, miscarriages and death. Clean drinking water could have saved his own son’s life.
“My hope is that we will save other children,” said Tuany, who now lives in Mission Valley and is a mental health professional and the father of eight children.
Prahm said at least 1.5 million people have no access to clean water. He said his group hopes to drill for six months every season.
“We currently have two drilling rigs and teams who perform miracles in sweltering heat and under extreme conditions,” he said. “Rotary is making life better for so many people in Sudan and we can be comforted in knowing that the lives of many villagers and their children will be saved by providing this essential gift of life.”
He said his group is working on a variety of fundraising events for the next drilling season beginning in December 2010 and anyone who wishes to donate to continue our efforts of providing clean, potable, water to the people of Southern Sudan can do so by visiting www.waterforsudan.org/ and clicking on the “donate now” button.
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