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Board spotlight: “Nigeria, the second time”

December 14, 2010

Willard Jenkins, of Waterloo, has held a position on IRIS’s Board of Directors since 2007.

An engineer with John Deere for 35 years, Jenkins worked in Moline, IL, Heidelberg, Germany and Waterloo, IA. Following retirement, he served ten years in the Iowa legislature as a State Representative from Waterloo and retired from public service in 2006.

My first visit to Nigeria was in 2005 at the invitation of IRIS.

The program was funded by the U.S. State Department and was aimed at linking our state legislators and community leaders with those who have similar responsibilities in Nigeria. I often identify it as a “Political Missionary” trip. It was a wonderful experience. The program still exists, and in fact, our new Lt. Governor, Kim Reynolds, was on the trip last summer.

My second trip was this November with a Rotary team led by Elise Cadigan of Rockford, Ill.

There were 14 in total and 7 were from Iowa. The purpose of the trip was to observe projects that are completed, underway or are candidates for future consideration by Rotary.

Rotary insists that a local Nigerian Rotary Club has commitment to a project before it can be considered by a remote club. Having local commitment is important, in my opinion, as it becomes a basis not only for seeking expertise, equipment or money to help a project, but the establishes relationships that will build good will and peace in the future.

Typical projects range from providing water and latrine facilities for a school to acquiring equipment for a hospital and establishing a micro lending program to foster entrepreneurism in villages.

Our executive director, Del led efforts for his Rotary Club in Adel to provide a water/sanitation system, and it was one of the projects where the ribbon was cut on this trip. Congrats, Del.

Dr. Saidu Yakubu, IRIS's Nigeria coordinator, and Willard Jenkins, IRIS board member

I was impressed by the impact that IRIS has had in Nigeria. Upon learning that I was from Iowa, several times someone came to me and said they knew about Iowa. When I asked how, the answer was usually by contact from Del Christensen, Bob Anderson, Dr. Saidu or some related connection with IRIS.

Those of us sitting in Iowa believe in the objectives of IRIS, but it is reassuring to get unsolicited feed back confirming that our efforts are on target.

Read more about Jenkins’ trip in an article from the Waterloo Courier.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 20, 2011 3:14 AM

    All is accurate and on business. It is well written, I thank.

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