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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Hughes deserving of White House honor

Friday, April 5, 2013

Today is an extraordinary day for Walter Hughes Jr. of Union Hall, and for Franklin County. Mr. Hughes, a member of the Rocky Mount Rotary Club, is at the White House today to be honored as one of only 12 Rotarians from across the country to be named a "Champion of Change." It's quite an honor, and certainly fitting for a man who, about 10 years ago, heard a question and acted on it.

The question was: "How do you dig a well in Africa?" Many years of work and many trips to Ghana, West Africa, later, dozens and dozens of wells have been dug in that country, eliminating the dreaded guinea worm disease along with other health woes caused by drinking unclean water. And all of that because Mr. Hughes answered a simple question by taking the initiative to learn, and act.

Working with other Rotary clubs and other Rotarians and humanitarian organizations, Mr. Hughes painstakingly amassed a group of volunteers and grant money to start digging those wells. It was, at times, a frustrating (not to mention risky) process, but he persevered, and has now spread his clean water mission to South Sudan.

Mr. Hughes is quick to point out that he is only one of many who worked on the Rotary clean water project, but little would have been accomplished without his leadership and determination. He is also quick to point out that the real reward is seeing the smiles on the faces of all the children gathered around the new well pumps, and to know that their lives won't be ruined by guinea worm disease.

People often see problems and feel overwhelmed, thinking there is little that one person can do. Mr. Hughes has shown just how much one person can do, with a lot faith, help and hard work.

A Champion of Change? Mr. Hughes is that indeed. And the kind of change he champions in all of us is to act selflessly to help others.

Those acts do change the world.

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