KINGS COUNTY - One man’s trash is another man’s tractor.
There’s a community effort afoot to see to it that a retired tractoris restored and shipped off to Africa.
Former Kentville businessman Pete Smith sold Robinson Oil in 1996, and later turned his attention to humanitarian work. The devoted Rotarian travels to Africa every two years to visit Cameroon’s Awing Village.
And he never arrives empty handed.
Smith, a member of the Rotary Club of Port Hawkesbury, works with clubs throughout the Maritimes to fill containers with donations that will be distributed to the hospitals, schools and people of Cameroon. He collects supplies by networking with schools, hospitals, businesses, organizations and private donors to collect items that have been deemed surplus.
Through Rotary International Medical Equipment Supply (RIMES), Smith has helped pack 16 containers full of donated good destined for Cameroon since he visited the village in 2003 to help with polio immunizations.
“I decided then, I was retired at the time, that I could do a lot more for the country,” the 74-year-old said.
His next project entails sending the people of Awing a 170-horsepower International tractor donated by Greg Coldwell ofRiverbrook Farms Ltd. in Port Williams.
“Awing sits in the foothills of Mount Cameroon and it’s an agricultural area, but they don’t have the kind of equipment that we have over here,” said Smith.
“The tractor that they’re using is a pre-war, old brute of a tractor that is just on its last legs.”
Coldwell, a fellow Rotarian, has a keen interest in the international work undertaken by rotary clubs.
“I think that I’m an extremely fortunate person to be able to live where I do and be able to do what I do every day. I think there’s some people that are less fortunate than me just because of geography and nothing else,” said Coldwell, who happily obliged when Smith suggested he donate the tractor.
“It’s just great to be part of an organization like Rotary that does so many amazing things everywhere.”
Kings North MLA John Lohr put Smith in contact with Adam Simpson at Family Tire, who offered to supply four new tires for the tractor for a significantly reduced cost. Hants Border resident Stephen Patterson, Smith’s brother-in-law, agreed to service the tractor to ensure it is in tip-top shape before it’s chuggin’ along on African soil.
The people of Awing Village are always gracious in accepting the donations. There’s even a poster in the village that reads “Thank you, Pete Smith. God bless you.”
“The king was so grateful he made me a chief in the tribe and he gave a parcel of land right next to his,” said Smith, who brings his grandson to Africa in hopes of having someone pick up where he leaves off when he can no longer go.
“It’s better than Christmas, really. When you have the ability to help the people, it’s got untold benefits. It’s far better than receiving.”