Building phase where cement blocks have been placed outside the Women’s Center in Zambia, each of which was made by hand.


Another phase during the building of the wall.

LEWISTON — The Lewiston-Auburn Rotary Club recently provided a $3,500 grant to the Women’s Initiatives that Strengthen and Empower (WISE). Joanne Bollinger, a member of Lewiston-Auburn Rotary, is board president of WISE, a nonprofit “born” in Maine.

WISE gained 501(c)(3) status in 2005 with the mission of moving vulnerable women and children in western Zambia toward self-sustaining lives. The nonprofit works in three areas of community development in the poorest province of Zambia: education, agricultural training and production and vocational training. Bollinger recently traveled to Zambia in May 2019; it was her eighth visit since 2013.

WISE works in one of the poorest areas of Zambia, and the purpose of the grant was to provide funding for a security fence at the Kaoma WISE Trust Women’s Center. The rear portion of the building has been especially vulnerable to theft, due to easy access to the property with no visibility from the center. Consequently, the center has experienced the theft of a submersible water pump and solar panels, as well as other agricultural products.

A trench is being dug during yet another phase of building the wall/fence with handmade materials — no machines were used at all in creating any aspect of the fence.

Without the construction of a fence, the women would not be able to proceed with their ongoing poultry program, the next step of which will involve an incubator and raising chickens on the property, thus providing income for the vulnerable women receiving training at the center. Without the fence provided by Rotary, economic and community development would simply not be possible.

The Lewiston-Auburn Rotary Club meets from noon to 1 p.m. every Thursday at the Village Inn, 165 High St., Auburn. Guests are welcome, and no reservations are required. Lunch is available at the restaurant. For more information, contact Club President Thomas MacDonald at 207-333-4588, follow on Facebook or visit

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