So how did Barrie Hawkins of Highton become responsible for enabling communities in Vanuatu to secure supplies of clean water? He studied Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the Gordon. He then enjoyed a long career at Ford, building and equipping large manufacturing plants, mostly in Australia but he spent 2 years in Taiwan and 2 years in Vietnam. Barrie served his community as a Councillor on the Shire of South Barwon (until being posted overseas) and has been a member of the Rotary Club of Belmont for nearly 40 years.
A key step before you can build a factory etc. is preparing the economic case to secure funding for the project. Barrie honed his skills doing this in the highly competitive Ford environment.
After retirement Barrie became involved with Australian Business Volunteers, an organisation supported by the Australian Government providing “business skills” to companies, universities and not-for-profit organisations overseas. He spent time in Fiji, Vanuatu, PNG and Laos training various groups in modern business techniques, including how to secure funding for their projects.
Through this program Barrie became aware of a community on Tana Island, Vanuatu which desperately needed a clean water supply. Traditionally, the community members – usually the village women – had to walk several kilometres to gather water and carry it back home to meet their families’ needs. Barrie trained a local organisation, Vanuatu Christian Council, how to write submissions seeking support for their projects. A key project was a building with a large roof area to collect water and a pipe to take it to a storage tank large enough to support a community of 1,750 people.
Barrie brought the submission to the Rotary Club of Belmont which donated $7,000 to fund the project. The project, implemented with the on-site co-operation of the Rotary Club of Vanuatu Grass Roots, was completed in 2016, and has enhanced the lives of this community in Vanuatu.
More recently, Barrie has gained the support of the Rotary Club of Belmont for another project to supply clean water to a Health Centre serving over 7,000 people on Pentecost Island in Vanuatu. This project will again be done in co-operation with the Rotary Club of Vanuatu Grass Roots, with funding of $7,500 supplied by the Rotary Club of Belmont. It is expected this project will be completed by mid-2017, ensuring the medical staff and community have a reliable supply of clean water.
Vanuatu is a South Pacific Ocean nation of 83 islands (10 large and 73 smaller) with a population of 250,000, located west of Fiji. Before independence in 1980, Vanuatu was known as New Hebrides.
Written by Bill Hall, Rotary Club of Belmont
Photo: Rotarians Syed Hussain, Barrie Hawkins and Cec Stott on duty at the Rotary Club of Belmont Sausage Sizzle at Aldi, Belmont, which is run every Saturday morning to raise funds for Rotary projects.