The Mount Shasta High School Key Club raised $5,000 dollars to bring clean, renewable water to African villages in need during the 5th Annual Save the Rain Benefit in Mount Shasta on Saturday.
Partly a celebration of the work recently completed in Patandi, Tanzania – which was sponsored by a grant from Rotary International and initiated by Rotary Mount Shasta – and partly a fundraiser for Save the Rain’s upcoming project, the benefit was a well-attended and jovial affair.
“This year, the event was put on entirely by the Key Club,” said Kelly Coleman, one of the founders of Save the Rain. “They did an absolutely phenomenal job. I’m so proud of all they’ve done, and so grateful to the community for supporting our efforts... We know that the economic times are challenging, and we are incredibly grateful to all who continue to support us. Saturday’s fundraiser was an amazing example of the true spirit of our community.”
After being served a hearty dinner by Keith Cool, owner of Mt. Shasta Supermarket, Coleman gave a brief presentation about her most recent trip to Africa, from which she returned just last week. With a $25,000 grant from Rotary International, she said Save the Rain employed 27 men from the village of Patandi to build 240,000 liters of rain water harvesting storage. This clean water supply will be used to sustain 858 students that attend Patandi Primary School and their families throughout the community. Of these 858 children, 158 are hearing or speech impaired, blind, autistic or intellectually challenged.
“Save the Rain would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the Mount Shasta Rotary for making it possible for us to help the children of Patandi to have a better life,”?said Coleman. “We’d especially like to thank Linda Stremel, who put her heart and soul into this project. Without her incredible perseverance in obtaining this grant for us, none of our work in Patandi would have been possible.”
In addition to constructing water catchment systems, Coleman implemented the second phase of Save the Rain’s program: the Women’s Water Initiative, through which women are being taught to build water catchment systems on their homes using a ‘pay it forward’ program. Five African women were selected to become the teachers who will guide other women in the program. Using the nursery school as a model, the women learned the simple skills necessary to build 5,000 liter water catchment systems.
“When asked if they’d prefer to be paid or to receive a rain catchment system on their own home, it was unanimous,” Coleman said. “They all chose to have clean drinking water at home and are now completing their task and beginning to teach additional women enrolled in the program.”
Following Coleman’s presentation, a dessert auction, a silent auction and a raffle, Jack Taforo and band entertained the enthusiastic crowd. People of all ages got out on the dance floor to have a good time.
“I’m so honored be able to support Save the Rain,” said MSHS Key Club president Ariel Cooper. “I’m also honored to work with Kelly (Coleman), who is so inspiring to me.”
“Save the Rain shouldn’t be considered a relief program,” said Ross Stuart, a Key Club member. “This program actually teaches people how to improve their lives, which is very important.”
The $6,000 raised on Saturday will be used for Save the Rain’s next project in Tengeru, Tanzania.
“The story behind our next project is fascinating,” Coleman said. “In 1942, 150,000 children in Polish refugee camps were disbanded across Africa. Of these 150,000 children – Jewish and Christian alike – 5,000 of them ended up in the little village of Tengeru. This starving African community took them in. They built a refugee camp, which was in existence from 1942 until 1952. Most of the children didn’t survive. All that’s left of the camp today is a cemetery.”
This coming July, Coleman will go to Tengeru to build water catchment systems at their school, she said.
“To give when you have is easy,” Coleman said, “but to give when you have nothing defines the true meaning of charity. Sixty-seven years ago, a poor, starving community took in 5,000 children who didn’t belong to them. Today, it’s our turn to return the favor for these people who did such an extraordinary thing... to move goodwill forward.”
To learn more about Save the Rain, go to www.savetherain.org.