India is the second-most populous country in the world, with more than a billion people. The World Bank estimates that 21 percent of communicable diseases in India are linked to unsafe water and the lack of hygiene practices. More than 500 children under the age of five die each day from diarrhea in India alone.
Swaminathan, aged 48, was born and raised in the tiny village of Kumarapalayam, where he now lives with his wife Chitra and their two children. For generations, agriculture has been the primary occupation of the residents, including Swaminathan’s father. But for the past few decades, groundwater levels have become dangerously low, causing the wells to dry up and making the water supply to the dams only seasonal. Not only has this made it nearly impossible for farmers to grow and harvest crops, it’s also made clean drinking water scarce. That meant that people sometimes had to miss work and their earnings to spend a great deal of time fetching water.
Not having access to safe water traps people in a cycle of poverty. Plus, getting water can be time-consuming when you are a family living below the poverty line in India and lack access to it at home. Women spend hours each day collecting it for their families. It makes it difficult to achieve much more than basic survival.
Without access to clean water, Shiela Raj, 69 years of age, also a native of Kumarapalayam, had no choice other than walking several miles a day to collect water. She suffered from waterborne diseases such as Typhoid Fever and diarrhea numerous times over the past several years due to the lack of clean drinking water. With the new borewell, she’s now able to live the rest of her life free from those diseases.
The installation of a borewell by Thirst Relief International and its local partner has changed that. The borewell provides a sustainable clean water supply in an area where groundwater sources are a viable option. For about $1350, a well can make clean drinking water available to the entire village, about 550 people, and people are no longer spending hours collecting water, liberating anywhere from six to 14 hours a week that can be used to earn income, study, play or take care of any other needs. Women, who shoulder most of the responsibility of gathering water, can spend more time tending to gardens to feed their families or seize other opportunities to make money. Children who no longer have to spend long hours collecting water for their families can have a childhood to explore their world.
Schools, like the one 10-year old Davish attends, not only teach the basics, with access to clean water from the borewell, they are now also able to teach students about the importance of handwashing and drinking safe water. The students take these lessons home to their families to share ways to keep their families healthy and safe.
Access to clean water is a catalyst for change; a path out of poverty; a glimmer of hope for a brighter future. There are so many ways you can be that glimmer of hope. Whether it’s a cash donation, a fundraising event you create, or your participation in an existing fundraiser, your contribution can help change the number of children who die from diarrhea every day in India from 500 to 0. It’s never been so easy to save lives.