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Rotary guest tells of life in Kenya

By Christopher Tenpenny

The Harrisonville Rotary Club welcomed a special guest as Emily Woods, a member of a Rotary Club in Kenya, spoke at the club’s weekly meeting July 7 at the Community Center.

Woods is originally from Texas but has spent the last decade in Naivasha, Kenya working for Sanivation, a social enterprise and sanitation partner for African secondary cities. Woods takes human waste, treats it, turns it into solid fuel and sells it to industries to replace firewood. Woods shared how a very small percentage of homes have indoor plumbing, so they have found a good use for the waste.

Indoor plumbing is not the only thing scarce in Kenya as just 300,000 of the 47 million in Kenya have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. Woods came back to the United States to get her vaccination and did so immediately upon arrival.

“Here go can go to CVS and they are just walking around giving out the vaccine,” Woods said. “I literally landed and walked into the local Wal-Mart and had a vaccine in minutes. That’s not the case in Kenya. I’m fortunate I am able to come home and get my vaccine but my heart breaks for those that do not have the same luxury.”

As a member of the Rotary Club in Kenya, Woods puts an emphasis on visiting other Rotary Clubs wherever she goes. Woods said she had visited less than 10 clubs so far, but that number will continue to grow.

“Now that I’m a Rotarian, I make it a point to visit other Rotary Clubs when I travel and that’s all over the world.”

Woods said. “It’s a connection you have with random people and it’s a great opportunity to hear their stories while you share yours. That’s really what the Rotary Club is all about. One of the themes is bringing the world together and this is one of those examples.”

While in Harrisonville, Woods did get to experience something for the first time in 10 years.

“I got to spend the Fourth of July at the lake and it was just amazing,” Woods said. “I haven’t been in the states for the Fourth of July for a decade at least. The community, the fireworks, the everything was really cool. It was great to be back in a good, small-town USA Fourth of July. You can’t beat it.”

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