March 12, 2020. Our program featured Carl Zvanut from the Lehigh Valley Chapter of Engineers Without Borders. EWB was founded in 2002 and set up mainly for students but the group has grown to include nearly 60 professional Chapters. Carl’s group assists with student groups at Lafayette and Lehigh and is involved in two Rotary financed projects.
The country of Sierra Leone is found on the southwest coast of West Africa. A brutal civil war throughout the 1990s left the country devastated. It is known as one of the least developed poor countries in the world. The infrastructure is abysmal and there is no effective power grid. Travel is difficult and there is a severe shortage of doctors. Our Lehigh Valley Health Network has ten times the doctors available for the seven million inhabitants of this nation. Medical skill levels are low and the country has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. EWB has been working in this country for many years. Easton Rotarians will remember seeing examples of the group’s work rebuilding the Centennial School. Their current project is paid for by a Rotary grant sponsored by the Rotary Club of Allentown West.
EWB is working at the Matru Hospital which was founded by American missionaries in the 1950s. This multi-year initiative is focused on infrastructure, staff, and financial management. The International House portion of the hospital is being renovated to house health care providers. The local people work on the project from sunup to sundown; often in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. It is hoped the renovated housing will help attract skilled medical personnel. The other aspects of the project will provide continuing education for medical providers and training for administrative staff.
All of this is made possible by voluntary donations to the Foundation of Rotary International. It is the power of our Foundation that has enabled Rotary to become one of the top charitable organizations in the world. Easton Rotarians can easily be a part of projects like this by arranging for a monthly credit card charge through the Rotary Foundation Direct program.