For the past decade, the Rotary Club of Batemans Bay has worked with the Rotary Club of Intramuros, Manila, Philippines, to provide drinking, sanitation, and irrigation water to schools, villages and a hospital in the Philippines.
The problem on the main island of Luzon is that although there is no shortage of water near the surface, the water is so contaminated that infant mortality from drinking the water is seriously high.
In those areas where Rotary has sunk wells and provided clean and fully tested water, the death rate of children has been considerably reduced.
The program set up by the two Rotary Clubs bears the title "Handog poso ng Rotary", which may be translated as "A Gift of Water from Rotary".
The current program for 2015-2016 is to sink eight wells for eight schools in Cavite Province, south of Manila. Total beneficiaries of the eight schools number 9218 students, plus teaching staff.
All water produced by the wells is tested for purity. The average depth of a well is 70 metres.
Rotary International and the Rotary Foundation are currently undertaking a worldwide series of symposiums on the need for providing water to Third World countries, the most recent one having taken place in Manila.
The title of the program is WASH, standing for Water and Sanitation Hygiene. Present in Manila was Rotary International President RV Ravindram and Chairman of the Rotary Foundation Ray Klinginsmith.
Fifty entries were submitted to the Manila program - water projects done in various parts of Asia. These entries were for the competition set up by Rotary. The judges were headed by the head of the World Bank, Moto Konichi, and the Unicef Head, Louise Maule.
Of the 50 entries submitted, 12 selected for excellence included the current project undertaken by Batemans Bay Rotary. Although in the past we have picked up a couple of minor awards, none compares with the prestige and significance of the WASH award.
In countries such as the Philippines, a great deal of humanitarian aid can be provided for a modest sum of money; the problem is, fundamental needs are on every side. Rotary has made a huge impact in Luzon as far as drinking water is concerned and this latest award simply stimulates us to continue the good work.