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Tuesday July 11th, 2017

Posted at 8:07pm

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The Rotary Club of Essex is looking for volunteers to join its mission team heading to Ghana, Africa in November of 2017.

The team will travel, at their own expense, to work on several projects including renovating a school, drilling fresh water wells, distributing mosquito nets and providing backpacks, uniforms & textbooks to 500 school children.

Medical professionals on the team will work in clinics providing primary care, dental services and 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 Rotary team leader Kim Spirou.

The airfare for the trip costs about $1,700 plus $800 for food, transportation and lodging depending on the length of the stay.

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, eye glasses, orthopedic braces, toiletries and other necessities prior to the mission. “We ship goods ahead of our trip on a container and distribute the items 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 $5.00 a week (imagine trying to raise a family on less than $1 per day), 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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