We are so fortunate to have Esther Havens in India this week, capturing the impact of last year’s World Water Day campaign. 186 men and women are now enrolled in the mechanics training program, and have already begun to earn commission maintaining wells. Here is one of their stories made possible by your generosity. Thank you. – The Adventure Project
Here I am back in India, the beloved country that I adore, with the smells of curry, burning incense and everything in between.
I was highly anticipating my trip. I had met with water mechanics two years ago, when The Adventure Project first launched their water campaign. It was a program that left me deeply impacted.
This time I was in the east, about three hours from Calcutta. Water for People, the local partner, has been hard at work training 186 new mechanics, and actively recruiting women to join their program. So far only five women have applied, the rest are men. It’s not surprising. In this conservative area, women’s rights are limited. But things are slowly changing.
When I first sat down with Rani Pait, I told her that I wanted to know her story and why she decided to become a well mechanic. Before I said another word, she burst forth talking so quickly I could hardly keep up. She then exclaimed, “Love marriage, I had a love marriage.” This woman was not what I expected. She was spunky. All smiles. And oh-so charismatic.
She wanted to ensure I knew about the best part of her story – meeting the love of her life. Her parents had arranged for her to marry a lawyer, but she had other plans.
“Why?” I asked.
“Love! Love! Because of love,” she shouted with a huge smile.
She had studied at a University and knew she had a bright future. Then, one day while standing in a phone booth she saw her future husband. It was love at first sight. So they eloped!
It meant Rani’s life would go in a different direction, away from security and towards life in a poor village. Her parents disowned her for a bit, but eventually forgave her. Rani and Vijan now live in a small home with two beautiful daughters. Despite challenges, she has no regrets. Even after 12 years of marriage, Rani’s eyes were sparkling as she spoke about Vijan.
Rani decided to become a well mechanic because she had seen so many children die from malaria and diarrhea, and the two wells in her village were constantly breaking. As a leader in the village, she thought she could do something to help.
In just four months she’s already earned 8,000 rupees repairing wells–which the community eagerly pays her in exchange for reliably clean water. She loves it, she said. “Water is life for people out here.”
It’s women like Rani who are transforming their communities. As I watched Rani walk through the village, I saw how other women looked up to her. She now has the tools and knowledge to give people clean water. And the ability to provide for her family.
This year, we’ve got big plans for World Water Day – taking the program where it’s never been before.
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