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Tuesday August 4th, 2015

Posted at 10:00am

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In November a team of Rotarians and other volunteers will travel to Ghana, Africa, at their own expense, on a humanitarian mission to complete a number of critical service projects.

While there, they will be working on a variety of projects including constructing a school, building a sanitation facility with 12 flush toilets and sinks, drilling water wells, building desks, distributing mosquito nets, and providing backpacks, textbooks and school uniforms to over 700 children.

Medical professionals on the team will work in clinics and provide eye exams and distribute eye glasses while in Ghana. “Participating on a humanitarian mission is definitely a transformative experience. It forever changed my outlook on life. You quickly realize how abundantly blessed we are in Canada,” says team leader Kim Spirou.

“You do not have to be a member of Rotary to join our team. We need individuals with a keen desire to make a difference in the lives of others and people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and pitch in. It is so rewarding to do this type of work and the people we help are enormously grateful for our contributions,” explains Spirou.

The airfare for the trip costs about $1,600 and another $700 for food, transportation and lodging depending on the length of the stay. The team departs Detroit for Ghana on November 5th.

Some team members are returning after one week while others have opted to stay in Ghana for 2 to 3 weeks.

Team members also assist with fund raising for the projects and help collect various items such as running shoes, soccer uniforms and soccer balls, school supplies, glasses, toiletries and other necessities prior to the mission. “We ship goods ahead of our trip and distribute them personally when we arrive in Ghana,” adds Spirou.

According to Spirou, most of the population who reside in this region of Ghana, live in extreme poverty. Ninety two percent are subsistence farmers, five percent are traders who work the streets trading goods and commodities and about three percent are government workers. While officially the average family income is about $5 a week, many families have no regular income at all.

Most cannot afford the cost of government health insurance so that means when they become ill they go without treatments or medicines and tragically many die of preventable and treatable illnesses.

Sanitation is lacking in the region and the majority of their water sources have become contaminated with human waste and poisonous residue from nearby mining operations. There is very little access to clean, potable water for the inhabitants of this region.

Malaria is Africa’s number one killer. Every 30 seconds a child in Africa dies from malaria. Window screens are lacking, anti-malarial medications are expensive and as yet a vaccine doesn’t exist to prevent this deadly scourge. However, malaria can be stopped with a simple device known as an insecticide treated mosquito bed net which provides an effective barrier preventing the transmission of this fatal disease. This year’s team hopes to purchase and distribute 1,000 mosquito nets to mothers and their children ensuring protection from this virulent killer.

“Rotarians live by the motto of ‘service above self’ but I think we also deeply believe in Margaret Meade’s words to “never underestimate the power of a few thoughtful and committed citizens to change the world. After all it is the only thing that ever has,” adds Spirou.

Interested individuals may contact Kim Spirou, Rotary Club of Essex at 519-253-0111 or email [email protected] for more information about the upcoming Rotary mission.

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