Original notes by Katrina Flinn, Rotary Hawthorn

Karen is an ethnic group from Burma (Myanmar), with many fleeing Myanmar due to religious and ethnic persecution by the government. A total of 140,000 refugees from Myanmar are living in camps in Thailand, and some have been there for as long as 20 years. Due to overcrowding, clean water is a real issue.

Rotary Hawthorn’s SkyHydrant project will fund the purchase and installation of a filter to provide clean drinking water to one of the Karen refugee camps.

Noel Halford, Rotary Hawthorn Club Service Director 2018-19 heard about the work of Rotary Nhill in attracting Karen refugees to their town situated close to the South Australian border, and how the refugees have successfully integrated into the Nhill community. Noel initially arranged for a Rotary Nhill representative to address Rotary Hawthorn, which then resulted in Hawthorn organising a weekend in Nhill during April 2019.

A friendship commenced between the two clubs with Rotary Hawthorn providing assistance to Rotary Nhill for the sponsorship of Karen student Mu Yeh Htoo to attend the National Youth Science Forum. It is the first time that a student from Nhill Secondary College has applied to attend the Forum and then being accepted.

Disaster Aid, which supplies SkyHydrant, is a project of Rotary Endeavour Hills in District 9810. Key people in Disaster Aid are Rotarians, one of whom is a qualified water engineer. Well versed in the field, the Disaster Aid Rotarians demonstrated the use of the SkyHydrant pump to Rotary Hawthorn representatives and also provided assistance with this worthwhile project.

The pump will provide 10,000 litres of filtered water per day. The community will assist with the installation of the fixtures under supervision, and will also be taught how to maintain the pump unit.

To learn more about the project, visit: https://www.hawthornrotary.org.au/Stories/the-road-to-nhill