Tavistock to Jinja – The Rotarian Line
12 months ago, almost to the day, John Morton, then president of the Rotary Club of Tavistock, set off, together with our Executive Director, on his first journey to the heartland of the African continent, destination Uganda.
The trip was an eye opener for John as he sought to understand both the method behind BT’s work and the reasons why so many people still live with the burden of chronic water poverty.
Here in the west a large majority of us, through no fault of our own, tend to live unaware of the plight faced by a large percentage of the developing world’s population, that being no access to even the most basic of sanitary facilities nor a reliable, clean, safe water source. Both are directly responsible for approximately 2 million deaths per year with children up to 5 the most at risk.
A great many factors contribute to child mortality, factors such as the mother’s level of education, environmental conditions and the quality of political and medical infrastructure. Improving sanitation, access to clean drinking water, immunization against infectious diseases and other public health measures can help to significantly reduce these tragic deaths, without these services many countries will never make the leap from developing to developed.
The indirect deaths/problems caused are much harder to calculate but one needn’t look very far to see the strain placed on hospitals, schools and other public services. Generation upon generation have been scarred and left unable to lift themselves out of poverty, something which could be done with a well, a basic toilet, a bar of locally made soap and a little education, simple isn’t it.
Being an astute and observant man, attributes honed over a career in the financial services sector, John took on board the sights, sounds and stories from the two week trip and returned to the UK with a renewed desire to do something good for those who remained, by accident of birth, trapped within this vicious cycle of poverty.
Buoyed by the effective and successful work observed during his time in the field John returned to BT, in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Tavistock, with a proposal to help return clean water and improved sanitation, through BT’s core rehabilitation programme, to a large number of rural Ugandans. Teaming up with fellow Rotarian, Elizabeth Lenton, John and the Tavistock Rotarians have been working hard to secure a future for a generation of young Ugandans who might otherwise be left to suffer in silence.
BT welcomed John back to Uganda this year on another field trip with the director and development manager. This time John was liaising with the Rotary Club of Jinja for their administrative support and even managed to make his way on to Ugandan television – see if you can spot him by clicking the link below, viewer discretion is advised, contains flashy dancing.