One international Cowley College student will return home from America with more than just an education.
Simion Melly, a native of Kenya, Africa, was raised in a small village that does not have a naturally occurring source of clean water.
He grew up in Sinendet village, which lies 40 miles away from Elderet.
About 1,000 people live in the village, including his mother and father. Melly is the youngest of 12 children.
His parents still live in the village, where they raise cows and goats.
The animals have to be walked to the town of Elderet to be sold, a journey that can take three days on foot.
The village has a hand-dug well, but many village residents suffer from dysentery, cholera or malaria.
Water that comes from this well still must be boiled in order to be considered safe to drink.
Lions Club helps
Melly currently lives with Sue Lancaster, a member of the local Early Birds Lions Club.
The Lions Club at the international level helps to provide clean water to regions of the world where no clean water can be found.
“I leave Lions Club books around the house,” Lancaster said. “Melly came to me one day and said ‘Mum’ — that’s what he calls me — ‘do you think that they can help me?’”
She contacted the second district governor of the Lions Club, Patrick Laham, who contacted past council chairman Bill Kincaid.
Lancaster asked the same question Melly did — could the Lions Club help Melly’s village?
Kincaid recently attended a conference with the international president of the Lions Club, Chancellor Bob Corlew.
The subject of Melly’s village came up and Corlew said the Lions Club could help to install a clean water well.
Lancaster, who has acted as a foster mother for Cowley College international students for a few years, said she just was acting as a “mom away from mom.”
Melly plans for future
Melly likely will not see the new well for several years.
He came to America in the fall of 2015 with an athletic scholarship to Wichita State University. Lancaster said he did not care for the larger college and opted instead to transfer to Cowley College, where he attends with the help of two educational scholarships.
Since arriving in the United States, Melly has not been home to see his family.
He does talk to them from time to time, using an international phone card. But he cannot write home because his parents do not read or write.
“He does miss his family,” Lancaster said.
Melly’s education is expected to continue and he has plans to obtain an licensed practical nursing or certified registered nursing degree.
After graduating, he intends to go home and start a clinic in his home village.