Our Rotary Club of Paso Robles Sunrise recently participated in two projects in Ile, located within the Zambézia Province of northern Mozambique and we would like to share them with you.

It started out as a latrine project at a local school that did not have sanitary facilities for the students where one of our Club Member’s daughter Naomi was stationed with the Peace Corp. She brought the less than desirable conditions to our attention and our Club voted on supporting the construction of the two units with the projected cost of $846. As we neared completion, Naomi brought to our attention the need for better communication and resources relating to COVID-19 virus.

Their lack of the distribution of information (limited radio, television, etc.) regarding the virus was one issue as well as very crowded conditions in the marketplaces due to a lack of refrigeration which causes villagers to need to purchase food every day. As such, masks and handwashing stations were needed to help minimize the risk of exposure and the spread of the virus. The distribution of soap was also included in order to address the lack of financial resources which often leaves families in Ile without the funds to purchase soap.  It is not uncommon for villagers to use ashes as a soap alternative. 

In addition to having Naomi, we worked with the “Hand of New Hope” organization and with “Egumi Dioroma” for the transfer of funds and exchange of information as to the specific needs in both projects. Initially, they produced and distributed 1,000 protective masks in the community, with another 400 that went to Hands of New Hope for HIV positive people.  Funds were also used to pay monitors to carry water to and man the 10 washing stations so that they functioned properly and did not become a source of transmission.   

A representative from the provincial health department was assigned to work alongside our group to assure that the project was well implemented, to assist with information and material distribution, to give health talks during market distribution events, provide helpful feedback about mask design, and to help distribute the printed materials and masks throughout the district. Our project is effectively partnering with local government initiatives. 

Egumi Dioroma, which means “health in first place”, trained the four washing station monitors and three seamstresses on best practices for COVID-19 prevention during production and implementation activities.  In an effort to produce and distribute masks prior to the arrival of the virus in Ile, the seamstresses have worked daily from early April until the present, taking one week of holiday in early May.  Our team has now made and distributed over 8,000 masks and 180 boxes of soap (each box containing 15-20 long bars, each the equivalent of about 4 typical American bars of soap). 

With such success, our Club is now looking at the next projects in Ile!