2009.02.21: February 21, 2009: Headlines: COS - Ghana: Service: Public Health: Medicine: Herald Times Reporter : RPCV Jim Niquette working to clear Guinea worm from Ghana water supply

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ghana: Peace Corps Ghana : Peace Corps Ghana: Newest Stories: 2009.02.21: February 21, 2009: Headlines: COS - Ghana: Service: Public Health: Medicine: Herald Times Reporter : RPCV Jim Niquette working to clear Guinea worm from Ghana water supply

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RPCV Jim Niquette working to clear Guinea worm from Ghana water supply

RPCV Jim Niquette working to clear Guinea worm from Ghana water supply

The University of Notre Dame graduate in business and finance spent about 20 years in the private business world as a computer technology and network consultant before joining the Carter Center and returning to Africa, where he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the late 1970s working on water projects. Niquette said he is away from his Kumasi home about 80 percent of the time working on Guinea worm eradication projects, which also receive financial support from the Gates Foundation, founded by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife. Accompanied by a Ghana Health Service staff member, Niquette said his efforts are appreciated by residents in affected communities. "When Guinea worm breaks out, there might be 50 cases a week later," Niquette said. "I wanted money in my pocket to address problems quickly and do direct interventions myself. That's why I began W.A.T.E.R." With a sister in Madison, brother in Delavan, and another brother in Manitowoc, Niquette's personal outreach has gone beyond safer drinking water. "Many children start working in rock quarries at the age of 6 or 7," Niquette said. "Only about 60 percent of Ghana children go to school, with most of those not going from the rural areas." Niquette has received support from the Noon Rotary, other groups and individuals enabling him to start a school, hire two teachers and offer education to about 25 children.

RPCV Jim Niquette working to clear Guinea worm from Ghana water supply

Manitowoc native working to clear Guinea worm from Ghana water supply
Lincoln High School graduate pursues support for safe water projects and school

by charlie mathews
Herald Times Reporter

February 21, 2009

Caption: On a trip to Ghana in May, former President Jimmy Carter, right, expresses appreciation to Manitowoc native Jim Niquette for his safe water projects in the West African nation. Submitted

MANITOWOC Jim Niquette, 55, knows the Guinea worm does not kill its human victims, but it is extremely painful and debilitating.

"We are making a lot of progress if you want to see a worm come out of somebody's body, you're going to have to hurry up," Niquette, a Lincoln High School class of 1972 graduate, told the Manitowoc Noon Rotary Club Thursday.

Niquette had flown 6,000 miles from his home in Ghana, in western Africa, to Chicago, then drove to Manitowoc to share the good news.

Niquette has been a consultant since 2002 with the Guinea Worm Eradication Program of the Carter Center in Atlanta. Former President Jimmy Carter has made beating the disease a personal crusade.

It is spread by unclean drinking water and results in headaches, weakness, fever, skin ulcers, nausea and pain.

Victims drink the water contaminated by worm larvae. Over the course of about a year, the worms grow to about a yard in length, then seek a way out of the body.

The worm usually emerges on a lower limb, creating a painful blister. A local health worker or the infected child or adult will wrap the live worm around a piece of gauze, extracting it, inch by painful inch, over several days or weeks.

The disease is so debilitating children don't go to school, mothers have difficulty caring for their children and farmers are unable to work in their fields, Niquette said.

"About half of Ghana's 22 million people don't have running water," Niquette told the local Rotarians. "About 90 percent of the people go to the bathroom in the bush.

"There's lifetimes of work back there," Niquette said of the democratic nation where he lives with his wife, Afia, and their 1-year-old son, Jeffrey Kojo.

"I want to tell you what has happened to your money," Niquette told the local Rotarians, who have financially supported efforts to prevent the spread of Guinea worm disease through W.A.T.E.R. Water in Africa Through Everyday Responsiveness.

The nonprofit Wisconsin organization is based in Wisconsin Dells, with Niquette raising about $140,000 in 2008 from various service organizations and churches sharing his passion.

"Don't underestimate what your generosity may achieve," Niquette said Thursday. "God works in mysterious ways."

The solution can be as simple as distributing nylon filters to screen out worm larvae from water intended for drinking.

Niquette also helps manage bore hole and water tank projects aimed at offering Ghana natives clean water vs. contaminated, stagnant water from dams and streams.
Sending children to school

The University of Notre Dame graduate in business and finance spent about 20 years in the private business world as a computer technology and network consultant before joining the Carter Center and returning to Africa, where he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the late 1970s working on water projects.

Niquette said he is away from his Kumasi home about 80 percent of the time working on Guinea worm eradication projects, which also receive financial support from the Gates Foundation, founded by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife.

Accompanied by a Ghana Health Service staff member, Niquette said his efforts are appreciated by residents in affected communities.

"When Guinea worm breaks out, there might be 50 cases a week later," Niquette said. "I wanted money in my pocket to address problems quickly and do direct interventions myself. That's why I began W.A.T.E.R."

With a sister in Madison, brother in Delavan, and another brother in Manitowoc, Niquette's personal outreach has gone beyond safer drinking water.

"Many children start working in rock quarries at the age of 6 or 7," Niquette said. "Only about 60 percent of Ghana children go to school, with most of those not going from the rural areas."

Niquette has received support from the Noon Rotary, other groups and individuals enabling him to start a school, hire two teachers and offer education to about 25 children.

About 20 major tribal languages are spoken in Ghana, Niquette said. "About half of the kids speak English we're trying to teach them to read and write English. They'll benefit from that ability."
Up at 1 a.m. to watch Packers

Niquette said he tries to get back to the U.S. twice a year, to visit family and provide project updates to supporters.

When he returns to Ghana, he said he has no safety concerns in a nation that has had four peaceful democratic elections in the past couple of years.

"I do miss watching the Packers it's nice to sit down 16 days a year and watch a game and have a beer with friends," Niquette said.

He did watch the Packers live three times this past season, getting up at 1 a.m. to watch Green Bay play. Niquette has a form of cable TV that gives him access to CNN, the BBC and ESPN International.

Ghanans particularly enjoy soccer or football as it is called in all parts of the world except the U.S. and the country went crazy, Niquette said, when Ghana beat the U.S. in the 2006 World Cup.

Niquette was a member of several outstanding Lincoln golf teams that went to the Wisconsin prep state tournament, and he also qualified for the individual competition.

"There are a few courses in Ghana, with sand greens," said Niquette, who hasn't played any of them.

He may spend the rest of his life in Africa. "It depends on where we choose to educate Jeffrey," Niquette said, noting Ghana has several state universities.

What will remain constant is Niquette's motivation to get involved in life-changing or life-enhancing projects.

"I want to make sure that when my life ends, I spent it and whatever resources I had in the most productive way possible that is my commitment to God," said Niquette.

Charlie Mathews: (920) 686-2969 or cmathews@htrnews.com





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Story Source: Herald Times Reporter

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ghana; Service; Public Health; Medicine

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