A little help for their friends

Thanks to some putt-putt golf, a cookout with hot dogs and hamburgers, and Rotarians and friends on Kauai with big hearts, people of Vanuatu will soon have more clean drinking water.

About 75 people signed up for the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay’s fundraiser on Monday at Kauai Miniature golf. While fewer actually made it, likely due to a bit of rain and wind, it was still a festive affair with lots of laughter and excited shouts when golfers drained hole-in-one putts.

“The response has been amazing,” said Michael Dexter-Smith, club membership chair and president-elect 2015/16.

He suggested the club split the proceeds from the annual event — half for its community service projects, and half to support Vauatu, which was devastated by Cyclone Pam in March.

Smith said he asked the Rotary Club in Port Vila, capital of Vauatu, what was needed most in the area. The answer came quickly: clean water.

Enough money will be sent to the Rotary Club in Port Vila so it can purchase about 100 clean water stations to distribute where they’re most needed.

“We’ve got to help each other,” Smith said.

Katie and Kenny Nalesere of Kauai have connections to Vauatu. Kenny grew up on the Shepherd Islands and has family and friends there, while Katie lived on Efate.

They set up a display of photos, maps and charts so golfers and Rotarians could learn more about Vanuatu, which is a chain of islands about a 1,000 miles east of Australia.

The recovery there is going slowly. An estimated $30 million is need to provide 110,000 people with food and drinking water through June.

“The water is all contaminated,” he said.

The clean water units, basically a large plastic bucket with a filtered hose attached, will make a huge difference, Katie said. One bucket can clean enough water for 10-20 people each day.

“We’re so happy to see this effort,” Katie said.

Neva Olson is with the Rotary Club of Kapaa, which is sending $2,000 to Vanuatu for the clean water stations.

“For the people who lived through Hurricane Iniki on this island, we understand what a hurricane does,” she said. “We understand what the people of Vanuatu are going through.”

Tony Motta of the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay said this was the fourth year of the fundraiser at the miniature golf course in Kilauea. Participants paid $40 for golf and the barbecue, or $25 just to eat. Most enjoyed a round on the greens that featured an array of challenges, including putting over water, through tunnels and around twisting turns.

There were also prize drawings, including a night’s stay at the St. Regis, and music was provided by Kam Goodman.

Motta, one of several volunteers pitching in, said it’s not only a fundraiser, but a chance to create camaraderie as everyone gathers for a great cause.

“Which is what we like to do,” he said.

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Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or bbuley@thegardenisland.com.

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