Ripon Rotary helps Gambia health clinic

Margaret and Chris Meeks of the Helping charity receive the donation from members of Rotary Club of Ripon and the Inner Wheel Club of Ripon.
Margaret and Chris Meeks of the Helping charity receive the donation from members of Rotary Club of Ripon and the Inner Wheel Club of Ripon.
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A health clinic in the Gambia will benefit from a secure water supply after a £1,000 grant from the Rotary Club of Ripon with support from the Inner Wheel Club of Ripon.

Rodney and Isobel Wilson, the Rotary and Inner Wheel presidents, first visited the country in 2010 and were informed of a charity run by a British couple which supported nursery education.

Help and support for Education and Local Projects IN the Gambia (Helping) is now supporting the renovation of the health centre in the northern village of Fass which the Ripon couple visited in January. The water supply is the last stage of the project and now Margaret and Chris Meeks, who run the charity, have been presented with the £1,000 cheque to get the project under way.

Mr Wilson said that, until recently, the water had to be carried by hand from the well 300 yards away and it will be “enormously important” in providing a constant supply of water to the clinic.

He said: “We first contacted the charity when we got home from our first trip and we’ve been in touch ever since. The charity has two dedicated people in this country.

“Gambia is one of the poorest countries in Africa and its only export is peanuts, and it also has tourism.

“Most of the villages have wells and people are constantly filling cans with water to carry but running water is still rare almost everywhere.

“Having water on tap for the health clinic is vital but most schools still draw water from wells north of the river. You can only get your mind round it when you see it.”

The money provided by Rotary, with the support of Inner Wheel, will ensure the health clinic can install a pumped water supply with solar power and a high-level water tank to the clinic in Fass.

Mr Wilson said: “ It is not a big country and it is seperated by a big river.

“The charity works in the village which is not benefiting from tourism.

“The people live in the huts and the houses have about two or three rooms which are filled with beds.

“However, they are always smiling, they offer incredible hospitality and they are extraordinarily generous. It just proves that you don’t need money to be happy.”