Naperville Residents in Zambia

“Service Above Self.” One Naperville Rotary Club is taking that motto to heart. For the past four years, members of the Rotary Club of Naperville Sunrise have been working in Zambia, a third world country in South Africa.

The most basic human need is water. But clean drinking water can be hard to find in Zambia. A group of Naperville Sunrise Rotarians, including Zambia-born Will Scott, are helping natives in Tikondone have that necessity through digging wells and educating them on the importance of clean water.

“If we can get clean water into them we can immediately reduce the number of diseases that are water born,” said Scott. “With the excess water we can produce crops, specifically high protein crops. Once we can get clean water and protein in them then we can start to educate them.

With education as the next step, the group is building a new school to serve more than 500 kids.

“All they had to learn in were grass huts. But these grass huts were full of kids just learning and smiling and having the time of their lives,” said Rotarian Ettie Randles. “I thought ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if they had a real school building?’ When they’re at school they get to be children, they get to learn their lessons and sing their songs, because outside of school they have a very hard life.”
The Naperville Rotarians aren’t alone in their efforts in Zambia; they have a liaison in Elke Kroeger-Radcliffe, who has become an honorary Zambian since living there for 13 years. She recently visited Naperville to give an update on the Rotarians’ project.

“Our people are unique, I should think,” said Kroeger-Radcliffe. “They like visitors. It’s Zambia, it’s different from Zimbabwe. There weren’t a lot of whites over time, and so we still have a bit of a halo, and so for us to go there and be interested and ask questions is such a bonus for them. And then our people are so nice as well and so the whole thing is just fun.”

Rather than a specific deadline to finish their project, they’re working to provide the people of Zambia with a sustainable quality of life for years to come.

“The idea is over time they start living healthier lives and generating income and can then start to provide for themselves, so the cycle locally is generating and they no longer need our help,” said Scott.

With Elke already back in Zambia, the group got a glimpse of their hard work and are already thinking about when they can go back to Tikondane and visit.

For more information on the project, or to see how you can help, visit www.napervillesunrise.com.

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