For Felix F. Walz (RC Oberer Zürichsee), a new phase in his life began at the end of his professional career as a police officer with the Zurich Cantonal Police, when in 2013 he followed an appointment by the United Nations Organization (UNO) and made himself available for three years as UNO security advisor to the Liberian government in one of the poorest countries in West Africa. With his early retirement in mid-2016, he decided together with Rotarian Beat Jud, RCOZ, to establish the "Bowier Trust Foundation Switzerland" (BTFS) to continue his humanitarian work in war-torn Liberia for the benefit of the population living in great poverty. His commitment received attention and thus support in Rotarian circles in District 2000. Knowing that a sustainable impact of humanitarian commitment can only come from a "help for self-help" program, the focus from the beginning was on the following areas: Health, Safety and Education. As a pilot project, BTFS chose a private school and church with a catchment area of six blocks (small communities): the Immanuel Christian Academy and Immanuel Church (ICA). The sanitary conditions at the school and church were simply catastrophic. No clean water, no functioning toilets, no water drainage in the rainy season and diseases such as malaria, typhoid and HIV were and still are the everyday conditions.
After two years of preparation and the recruitment of suitable local personnel; the network building with educational, health and safety authorities and as a central element the mobilization of the local population with their traditional, indigenous characteristics, led to the ceremonial handover of a new and functioning infrastructure on June 17, 2018 after a pure construction period of two months in the months of May and June 2018.
BTFS President and Rotarian Felix F. Walz: "Our ICA school with over 300 children now has clean groundwater from a well that carries water even in the dry season; a new water tower; sewage and rainwater pipes; a new septic tank and a new toilet infrastructure. The maintenance plan is in place and is the result of many training sessions with the school and church on the one hand, and with the local population and their mood makers (Community-Leaders, Parent-Teacher Association etc) on the other hand. In the future, the surrounding communities and family clans will make small monthly contributions to finance the maintenance, care and operation of the new facilities themselves.
All construction works were carried out by the local company PARKER, GROUP OF LIBERIANS UNITED FOR SOCIAL SERVICE (PGLUSS), INC. of Oldest Congo Town, Monrovia,
Liberia, and was accompanied and supported by our construction expert, Michael Stefan Stutz. Michael Stutz was made available by our Rotarian friend, Gian-Reto Lazzarini (RC Linthebene), BUTTI BAUUNTERNEHMUNG AG, for this assignment during two months. Through great mediation of a RCOZ club member, the cement industry HEIDELBERG-CEMENCO, located in West Africa, made a donation of 1200 bags of cement to support the construction project on site.
This important first phase of our pilot project has attracted attention and a very positive response not only locally but also in the media in Liberia. In a letter from Liberian Congressman, Dr. Samuel Enders (Rotarian in New York USA), he thanked the Rotarian clubs of District 2000 for their support. In his capacity as District Representative to the Liberian Government, he also expressed his intention to enter into a long-term partnership with BTFS.
Thanks to Rotarian support from four clubs in District 2000, as well as private help, the preparation and execution phases of the construction project could be (pre-)financed. There is a partnership with the partner club in Monrovia based on a Memorandum of Understanding. In order to keep the new infrastructures functional in the long term, it is important that our team on site continues to be supported so that the monitoring and the BTFS training offer can remain active. Therefore, we are dependent on support in the coming months and are happy if we can continue to count on Rotarian support.