In November 2015, the Executive Committee of Inner Wheel District 331 proposed to the 8 Inner Wheel clubs in the District to participate in a Joint Disaster Relief Project entitled “Community Mitigation of the Kota Belud Water Supply Crisis”. This was following the disastrous earthquake which hit the northern region of the State of Sabah, Malaysia in June 2015.
As a result of the topographic changes of the Kadamaian River which were induced by the earthquake, and the mud floods which contaminated the river, 2 of the water treatment plants in the area were then operating at way below their capacities. The affected villages were on water rationing and the villagers had to depend on the limited clean water supplied by the municipal Water Department tankers. This was barely sufficient for drinking and cooking purposes. While waiting for the government to rectify the situation, some of the villagers tried to embark on their own community mitigation measures to address the water supply problem. These included the reviving of their decommissioned gravity feed piped water system and upgrading of existing ground water wells. However, the villagers needed funds to enable them to do so and were in a dilemma.
The clubs’ involvement was, therefore, solely to raise funds for the purchase of materials to assist in the construction of the various mitigation measures undertaken by selected communities in the vicinity of the Kota Belud district affected by this water supply crisis, while the contribution of the villagers from the selected villages was their sweat equity in either installing a new well, upgrading an existing well or installing a connection to a gravity feed water system. The criteria for selection of the beneficiaries for this Project included the following:
In view of the tight time-line given to the clubs to raise the funds for this Project, the initial plan was to raise sufficient funds to assist 4 to 5 villages at best. However, as word about the ambitious but very meaningful Project spread among the local communities in East Malaysia and Singapore, the funds grew way beyond everybody’s expectations in that short space of time.
Every single cent raised was properly accounted for and applied towards the Project, and at the end of that Inner Wheel year, the Disaster Relief Project raised enough funds to assist 11 villages and the teachers’ quarters in the District of Kota Belud. In total, it benefitted 439 families with a population of over 2,735 villagers. The Project also raised public awareness as to the existence of Inner Wheel and what Inner Wheel stands for. As a result, two teachers from Kota Belud are now members of Inner Wheel.
Although the clubs in District 331 are unique in that they are located in two different countries and separated by the South China Sea, this Joint Project symbolises the unity that holds District 331 together. Seeing the hope and gratitude that lit the faces of the villagers when told that the ladies from Inner Wheel were there to assist them, and sensing their enthusiasm to help themselves overcome the water crisis, this meaningful Project was beyond doubt, worthy of every single ounce of our ladies’ efforts in raising the funds!