It takes a village

HOUGHTON – Rotary Clubs all over the world are in communication with each other, and because of that fact, Cindy Enderby went to a village in Ghana to help residents with several sanitation projects, including the removal of a large pile of household waste.

Enderby, who is a member of the Houghton Rotary Club, said members of the Accra-West Rotary Club in Ghana let Rotary International know about the sanitation situation in the Ghanan village of Medie. A Rotary member from Appleton, Wisconsin traveled to Medie to gather information.

“She came back to the states to visit last May, and was looking for people to support the project,” she said.

Enderby said in 2001 she went to Ghana for Rotary to help out with polio immunizations, so she had a familiarity with the country.

“I was interested in doing something else to help,” she said. “I brought it to the Houghton club.”

She also mentioned the idea of doing a project in Medie to other individuals and Rotary clubs in the district, Enderby said.

The idea was well received by club members, Enderby said, because it fit in well with the Rotary mission of fighting disease and working to improve water quality and sanitation situations.

“The project addressed issues in both focus areas,” she said.

Enderby said Rotary Club members raised about $10,000 for the Medie project, which was undertaken by the villagers. Another $10,000 was provided by the Rotary District 6220, and the Rotary International Foundation provided another $15,000 for a total of $35,000.

The money was used to renovate a public restroom, including building a septic system for it, and to remove a large pile of toxic waste in the middle of the village, Enderby said.

The projects were done in phases.

“The first step was the clean up of the town, and getting huge dumpsters so people have a place to put their trash instead of dumping it in a pile,” Enderby said. “Changing habits was a real important part of the project.”

With the installation of the dumpsters, Enderby said a trash collection system has been started in the village, which is new.

“Rotary emphasizes the sustainability of a project,” she said. “For sustainability, a huge education component was part of the grant.”

Part of that sustainability is a required memorandum of understanding from the local government outlining their responsibilities to make sure the work done is continued, Enderby said.

“They have in writing that they will be responsible for the trash collection and managing the toilets that have been built,” she said.

Enderby said workers from the Ghanan version of the Environmental Protection Agency went to each home in the village to explain what was needed to keep the village clean.

There were some delays in the project, Enderby said.

“The renovation of the toilets took longer than expected because the septic system we had planned on, they decided wasn’t going to be adequate,” she said.

A larger septic system had to be constructed, Enderby said. Another set back involved the disposal of the toxic waste.

“That landfill closed down, so we had to find alternate solutions for getting rid of the waste,” she said.

The project in Medie started in November and finished in March, Enderby said. In November, she went to Ghana for one week to see what had been done and to take part in a ground-breaking ceremony. She will go back to the village at the end of May to do a follow-up on the project.

The clean up of Medie not only got rid of toxic waste and improved the sewage disposal system, Enderby said there are plans to bring in transportation systems and construct stands for a village market.

“It’s not only going to address the health issues, it’s going to help with enterprise development,” she said.

Enderby said the people of Medie seem to be very enthusiastic about the effort to clean up the village.

“They planted trees,” she said. “They’re very excited about how lovely the center of town is.”