Thanks to a Rotary Global Grant “Liberian Villages Clean Water & Sanitation,” funded by the gifts of District and Liberian Rotary Clubs and members, as well as Episcopal Churches in the Diocese of Northern California and their members, a shipping container packed full of items destined for the West African nation of Liberia, is on its way. The container is expected to arrive in October after its journey through the Panama Canal. It was packed with a pickup truck, an automobile that will be fitted with handicapped controls, medical supplies donated by Gridley’s Orchard Hospital and other Northern California health organizations, well-drilling equipment, delivery vehicles, and supplies of clothing, schoolbooks, gallons of disinfectant, and other items.

The Rev. Dan Boeger, past-president of the Gridley Rotary Club, and a deacon at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, Gridley, along with Augustus Flomo, a representative of the Liberian Children’s Schooling Project and Sinkor (Liberia) Rotary Club past president, visiting Northern California from that country, prepared and loaded the container. Augustus is visiting with his wife, Cecelia, a registered nurse, and is traveling throughout the area visiting churches and Rotary clubs to discuss this project. The handicap-equipped vehicle is destined for the use of Mogana Flomo, Executive Director of Liberian Children’s Schooling Project, who travels throughout Bong County confined to his wheel chair.

This container is the latest phase of a $90,500 matching grant from Rotary International designed primarily to promote access to clean water in Liberia. The first phase was the travel to Liberia of a five person Vocational Training Team (VTT), consisting of Boeger, Albert Nielsen, M.D., Phil Mulford of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Auburn, Dave Pittman (Past President of Oroville Rotary Club and Oroville City Councilman) and Susan Johannsen (of Chico’s Enloe Hospital). The team traveled throughout Panta District in Bong County, Liberia, giving training in safe water and public health. The timing of their visit was fortuitous, as it immediately preceded the outbreak of Ebola in that country. In response to that outbreak, local churches and rotary clubs initiated a supplemental grant to provide protective clothing and equipment to health workers. The groundwork of the team, and the quick response to this emergency, allowed Augustus and Cecelia to get the jump on the virulent disease in Panta District, actually ahead of government and other NGO efforts, with the result that the entire district of 26 remote villages with 70,000 people located within just a few miles of the ground zero of the Ebola outbreak remained totally Ebola-free.

Previous Rotary Humanitarian Grants provided a rice mill, a vehicle, and farming equipment to the district. Several Rotary Clubs, Episcopal churches, and members of the wider community also sponsored that grant.

The project had its beginnings with a visit to Liberia by Ms. Cynthia Soares, a Gridley Educator, who brought back stories of her visit. Her visit generated the first shipment to Liberia, containing schoolbooks donated by the Gridley Unified School District, and Clovis School District, near Fresno. Accompanying the books was a tractor and a truck. That project started with a yard sale, sponsored by St. Timothy’s, and was supplemented with gifts from the entire Gridley Community.

The next phase of this project will be the journey of Phil Mulford to Liberia to help with the drilling of new wells, and the repair and improvement of older wells and pumps. He plans to be in Liberia for four months, living in the rain forest.

Rotary Clubs of District 5180 who participated in this grant were Gridley, Oroville, Colusa, and West Sacramento Rotary Clubs and the entire Rotary District 5180 and Rotary International Foundation. Churches involved were St. Timothy’s, Gridley, St. Luke’s Auburn, St. James’ Yuba City and the entire Episcopal diocese of Northern California.