Contact: Sharon Ross
“Thank you for the two water tanks that you gave us. Last year people were suffering from typhoid because of bad water from rivers, but now we are drinking clean water because of you â€¦” Kamuthanga Primary School, Machakos, Kenya 11/6/03
Students taking shoebox kits and quilts to African HIV moms; also building “RainCatchers” — a pilot born from the San Diego wildfires.
“The challenges facing children in Africa are devastating,” said San Diego World Affairs Council President Vickie Butcher, executive director of Water for Children Africa. “A growing number of children there have been orphaned by the AIDS pandemic or are themselves HIV positive; 30,000 die daily from lack of water and simple sanitation; and extended drought means millions more are starving.”
To help battle two major problems facing Africa — the water shortage and AIDS — Butcher is leading a team of San Diegans to Africa April 1–18. They will stay with families in South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya and Botswana. This is Butcherâ€™s seventh trip to provide interactions that promote cultural awareness and reduce cultural misunderstanding. “It’s important for people to experience worlds they’ve only heard about,” she said.
Team members include Encanto residents Janice Groves-Todd, Soroptimist South Bay President, and school counselor Keashonna Christopher; Rev. Alyce Smith-Cooper of Golden Hill; and University City resident Michael McCraw, President & CEO of the California Southern Small Business Loan Agency.
In addition, students will participate in the trip to help form a cultural bridge linking America’s youth with Africa’s youth, Butcher said. Students selected for the team are: Heather Elkins of La Mesa, Grossmont College Rotaract VP; Golden Hill residents Diona Johnson, Futures High School Interact President; and her brother James Cunningham, a San Diego High School freshman; La Jollan Carlos McCraw, a High Tech High School sophomore; and Kelly Ross of North Park, Grossmont College Rotaract President.
Butcher, a member of the California State Water Authority Board, also will be joined by self-described “rain farmer” Jack Rose in a first-ever RainCatcher (www.raincatcher.org) project for Africa. In an ironic twist, the team learned about the water expert while he was in Julian to help a friend rebuild following the October wildfires.
“Every eight seconds someone dies of contaminated water — thatâ€™s five million deaths a year according to the World Health Organization,” Rose said. “A recent meeting of 10 countries in Africa identified improved collection of rainwater as an important effort to ease this terrible problem.” The team will be piloting Rose’s RainCatcher invention — a harvesting structure that can be set up in a day, at minimal cost, using materials at hand. “There are many ways to catch the rain. Any existing structure or freestanding tent can be converted to become a rainwater factory, ready to provide thousands of gallons of clean drinking water,” Rose said.
With generous support from across the nation, the team also will fund water tanks for schools in the Machakos region of Kenya. Each tank ensures a safe, sustainable water supply and improve health conditions for 300-500 children.
“In South Africa, we are participating in an international AIDS effort called Hope Through Knowledge,” Butcher added. “We are taking hundreds of shoeboxes filled with important supplies for HIV positive mothers learning how to care for themselves and their children.” The shoe boxes have been assembled by local churches including Bethel AME, Cathedral of St. Paulâ€™s, Faith Chapel Church of God and Christ, Christian Fellowship, Women of Vision Outreach Ministry and Bethel Baptist Church. Kit contents include bacterial handwash, bandaids, gauze, hospital gloves, a pain reliever, lotion, shampoo, toothpaste & brushes, handwipes, baby quilt, clothing and toy. Beautiful handmade quilts for the babies were made by the Quilt Ministry at Bethel AME Church.
Supporters of the team’s efforts include: the El Cajon Breakfast Rotary Club; Water for Children Africa, Alliance for African Assistance; Rotary Club of Machakos, Kenya; Rotary Club of Johannesburg N Central, South Africa; Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa; Rand Afrikaans University, South Africa; El Cajon Valley School District and Grossmont Community College.
Additional support is still needed and will help extend the outreach efforts of the team. Water tanks, for instance, cost $500 each; 10 kits cost $50. Tax-deductible donations are welcome to Neighborhood Fundraising Network, Inc., 5941 Cozzens, San Diego, CA 92122.
For more information, call the “It is Written Community Bookstore” at 619-286-5952.