It’s hard to believe something so simple can make such a big difference.
However, four members of the Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch — Michael and Judy Berlow, John Freeman and Ron Myers — learned that lesson firsthand when they traveled Sept. 29 through Oct. 9 to Peru.
There, they met with fellow Rotarians and visited several villages to evaluate the execution and progress of several water-improvement projects being funded by the Lakewood Ranch Rotary Club and The Rotary Foundation Humanitarian Matching Grant Program.
From 2010 to 2012, the Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch has partnered with Rotary Clubs in Lima, Iquitos and Chiclayo, Peru, to identify communities that did not have clean water and sanitation and then work to develop solutions for those communities. Wells have been installed in several communities and a group called Water Missions International is acting as a contractor for Rotary, providing in-the-field assistance to the villages receiving water, training villagers how to use the system. Villagers also are learning about the importance of clean water, proper hygiene and more.
“The people in Peru truly want to learn to help themselves,” Michael Berlow said. “They were begging to learn and do it for themselves.”
Each village’s water solution is slightly different, depending on the community’s geography and needs. For example, some of the communities receive chlorinated and filtered water, while others only need water chlorinated.
“(For me,) it reinforced what Rotary International does,” Berlow said of the trip. “These are not all wealthy people (in Rotary), but they find ways to help (these communities).”