For a moment, close your eyes and imagine that the City of York has 10 schools ... and the schools have no toilets.

Imagine "ditches of waste water running through the town."

Thank God, it's not York. But it is Apam, a fishing village in Ghana.

Schools without toilets ... sewage running through the streets.

That's the story Dr. Marsha Bornt told York Rotary. She and other Rotarians have been to Apam. They've witnessed these appalling conditions, and they're doing something about it.

"Apam is a large fishing village with no steady clean water and with ditches of waste running through the town," Bornt explains. "As a result, the malaria rate is more than double what it is in Accra, the capital, and is their No. 1 killer."

Consequently, Rotary members are determined to raise $200,000 among the 40 regional clubs in order to get toilets in the schools and sewage out of the streets.

Earlier, the Rotary clubs raised money to install refrigeration equipment in the village in order to protect its sole source of livelihood ... fishing.

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If pleas and police can't do it, maybe prayer will.

And so, a prayer group was born ... prayer in the streets ... prayer to bring peace and safety to our community, according to a report in The York Dispatch.

Last Thursday night, the group prayed at Penn and Market streets. Tonight at 9, they'll be at East Prospect Street and Girard Avenue ... Everybody's welcome.

As the Dispatch noted ...

"The idea for a weekly prayer gathering originated with two young men who said they want their children to have a better future than perhaps they did growing up in York City."

The report quoted Nate Fel iciano ...

"We both felt we had to do something more. We want to instill hope. There's a lot of people that have lost hope -- especially the young people. We just want to bring it back."

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"Pastor Appreciation Day" is Sunday, and October is "Clergy Appreciation Month."

So, take time to give your religious leaders a good word. Like the rest of us at one time or another, they experience burnout, disillusionment, frustration, isolation and stress. Moreover, they're often on-call around the clock.

Your words of thanks and encouragement will help to keep their energy tank full.

Columns by Hank Merges, a local writer, appear Tuesday and Thursday in The York Dis patch. Reach Hank at hmerges@yorkdispatch.com or 854-1575.