For the last two years, the Rotarians and Anns of the Rotary Club of Ladybrand (D9370) have been preparing to implement an amazing upliftment project to help improve the health and sanitation facilities at nursery schools in the nearby Manyatseng, South Africa. With only 10 Rotarians, this is clearly a case of the little club which can and the project has become a great source of pride among the members. 
A Global Grant, with a benefit value of US$60,500 is in the process of being approved and the club was thrilled to receive a visit from one of the project’s major role players, PDG Jim O’Meara, from the Rotary Club of Carlsbad (D5340, USA). Jim and his wife, Joanne who is a member of the Rotary Club of El Camino Real (D5340), were escorted from Durban to Ladybrand by PP Pat Draper and his wife, Beryl. Jim was so enthusiastic about the project that could not wait to discuss its merits and meet the Ladybrand club’s leaders, the nursery school teachers and children. 
Rotary E-Club of South Africa One (D9370) member, Pat and Beryl had previously visited the club and project site and were able to brief the American visitors about what they would find. In many instances, the little school children have to use buckets, which are placed out in the open or sheltered by sheets of corrugated tin, as toilets. The health risk this imposes is great and has been of much concern to the Ladybrand Rotarians. The project will see the buckets being replaced with shipping containers which will have been converted into boys’ and girls’ toilet blocks. Personal hygiene is one of the issues which will be covered by specialist training.
The staff are also excited by the project. One of the reasons for this excitement is that the project will see a kitchen sink, with hot water from a solar-powered geyser, being fitted. The Ladybrand winters are severe and icy winds from the snow-clad Maluti Mountains make it nearly impossible to clean dishes in the freezing water.Once the project is implemented, Andrea van Niekerk, a gardening specialist from Hobhouse, will make weekly visits to the schools for a period of a year. She will help the staff plan, prepare and establish sustainable vegetable gardens. The fresh produce from these gardens will be used in the daily meals provided at the schools. Andrea will also teach them preserving techniques and excess produce will be preserved for the lean months or sold at markets. District Governor Andrew Jaeger is a member of the Ladybrand club and pointed out that the project manages to comply with the goals of no less than four of Rotary’s six areas of focus.

During their visit, PDG Jim and Joanne and the rest of the group were entertained by the delightfully enthusiastic children of Amohelang Day Care Centre. The impact this project will make on the lives of the school’s children and staff, was humbly summed up by the centre’s matron, Anastasia Thene, “Your contribution reminds us that we are special too.”
Story originally published in August 2014 ♦ Rotary Africa