Water Camp

DSC_0975 DSC_0986 DSC_0990 DSC_0943 As I write its 2:30am in India and a warm and balmy 83 but feels like 99 degree night/wee hours of the morning day and yes, you ask, the humidity, it’s 83%. For those in the US that live in the South this is typical summer weather and for India the same. The difference however is power cuts throughout the day and no air conditioning in many of the businesses and homes, especially in the rural areas.

Resultantly it’s no wonder that requests come for financial assistance in order that Summer Relief Water Camps can be set up at different places and times during the year. Each camp costs around $1250 for the week which isn’t too bad but not free either. Thankfully I was able to support a couple of these in 2 different towns in Southern India and have included some photos from the most recent camp.

When you support Wells for Life this is one such initiative that we take up throughout the year as we seek to make an impact in the communities we serve.

More than ever your support is needed. With summer heat and a lack of monsoons, many places in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Karnataka are suffering due to water scarcity. Our project partners are waiting for the green light to take up projects but without your giving the light remains red.

Consider supporting a water project and help us bring lasting relief, not temporary but permanent, through a hand pump water project in a needy village.

One time gift or automatic monthly giving is easy to set up, just click the DONATE button and within a minute or two your gift can happen and impact will be made!

24/7 x 365 days a year, an amazing investment in the well-being of an entire village or community!

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Summer Heat

Summer heat is always a problem in rural India where relief isn’t readily available.  Whether it is because of the lack of air conditioning or a house fan or power cuts, when the heat and humidity comes relief is necessary.  Two of our project partners in Andhra Pradesh set up Emergency Water Camps and pass out cool water and buttermilk to any who pass by.  Here are some photos from last years camps and within a few days similar camps will be active again.

If you want to help us fund these camps then your gift will certainly help make these camps possible and successful.

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April Fools

I wonder where this even started. I actually forgot about it being April 1 until I was cruising through Facebook and I saw a story that someone posted about Bill Self leaving Kansas. Knowing the KU got drubbed by Oregon just days earlier I thought there could be some truth to the story so I clicked on it, the page opened and there was Bill grinning with April Fools stamped across his photo. I’d been had! It’s funny how quickly we can fall prey to a joke or a story especially if there is some sense of probability in it.

Thankfully there isn’t any measure of hoax when it comes to helping someone in need. Can you just imagine if you encountered someone who offered to help you out in a situation only to discover that they really had no intention at all in following through?

Never happen you think? Actually it does and probably quite frequently.

For me, I was in a rural village and heard a plea for clean water. After some back and forth I finally made a promise to bring the water and felt quite satisfied with my response and commitment only to learn that I wasn’t the first. The village president that many had passed through the village and promised clean water but to date, nothing. Time had passed, people had forgotten and the village was left wanting, abandoned. How long I asked? Almost 4 years I was told. I shook my head in disbelief and promised I wouldn’t do that.

You see, making a promise for me isn’t an April Fools joke. I just can’t say, I’ll do this and then not deliver on the goods. A promise is a promise.

For this village, I didn’t have the funds nor did I have the expertise or the knowledge, I just had the faith and so I made the promise. 7 months later the village had their water and I had a mission. 7 months you say, sounds like an awful long time. Truth is, I promised the water in a year because that is how long I thought it would take for me to save up the necessary money. Thankfully, the money came quicker and so the people celebrated sooner.

I share this story as a reminder for us all that people matter, especially ones that struggle on a daily basis just to survive. Making a difference in someone’s life is pretty simple; a smile, a kind word, a handshake or a hug usually can do the trick. In those cases where there is hunger, thirst or nakedness, then you do more; you give and you clothe.

Help us fulfill some new promises for clean water this April by giving to Wells for Life. Your gift will change a life and that’s no joke!

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World Water Day

Today marks that one day a year when attention is brought to the World Water Crisis.

India like other developing nations suffers from water scarcity especially in the rural regions.  Of the 1.4 or 1.6 billion people, depending upon whose numbers you believe, it’s estimated that at least 65% live in a rural setting and of this number roughly 30% lack access to clean water on a daily basis.  Translation, that’s a lot of people suffering because they lack access to one of life’s most necessary elements for survival.

For me, World Water Day marks that one day a year to actually make a difference though giving financially. Just the act of giving can take us out of “self” mode and helps us see those around us or in another part of the world who for whatever reason or circumstance don’t have the same opportunities that we might have.

I could go on and on about giving and making a difference but it’s all been said and I’d just be redundant so I’ll spare the words.  I will just say that a whole lot of good happens when you give towards providing clean water to a community, village or school, especially one that has been waiting for days, months and even years.

Giving to make a difference is really quite easy, just do it.  Go to our Donate button and give an amount that you feel is appropriate.  The larger the amount the more I can make happen!

Here’s an example of what happens when I walk into a school which has been wanting clean water for some time; finally someone listened and impact was made!

Enjoy and share it with your network and together let’s make a difference in this world.

November Trip

Jet lag is just about gone which is a really good thing because having energy abruptly disappear at 6pm is a real drag. This past trip was a whirlwind of a trip despite it being 9 days, it seemed like I was always in a car or on a plane. Nothing new really for India except that my air time was longer than my car time.

13 water project openings in the Trichy area which was a huge highlight with many of the projects being schools. How cool it was to walk into one school with 1300 screaming boys all excited to see you. Probably had something to do with me being a white foreigner and not so much about the fact that we brought 2 water projects, or maybe it was a combination of both. Regardless, it was a fun occasion and I was able to share a personal story with them that was practical and relatable.

20161107_120638I could write pages and pages about the trip as there were many highlights; the slums of Chennai and the work taking place there with young people teaching them a transferable skill that empowers them to be self-sustaining to learning more about some income generating projects that benefit some very poor communities in Karnataka.

There was also a wedding that I attended in Kerala and aside from the wedding party I was probably the most dressed up white guy in traditional Indian dress.   Somewhat crazy to think of but there I was looking out of place! 20161105_132355

All in all, a great trip.

In 3 short weeks I’m back in India if you can believe it. This time a partner meeting to discuss our work, the future and how do we get there from here? After the partner meeting I hope to visit some projects being undertaken in AP and possibly a quick trip back to Karnataka to discuss some more opportunities related to income generation for the rural poor.

In regards to where we stand for 2016, happy to report we have funded 60 new water projects which is in line with previous years and bring our total number of places we have impacted with clean water to 768!

2017 is going to be a challenging year for me as I foresee some new exciting opportunities and some adjustment to our current mode of operandi provided all things (aka funding) remains constant. If more $$ come then we can do more projects, if giving is reduced then we’ll reduce our impact. I was actually feeling the weight and reality of this just the other day and when I sat down at my desk I looked at a card that I had just received in the mail with a check in it and the face of the card read “Have Faith”.

Isn’t this always the challenge?

Check back with me in a few months and see how I’m doing.  In the meantime, year-end giving is just around the corner and your gifts will help us continue to make an impact in rural India so don’t hesitate to click the Donate button at the top of the page.

Until next time.  If you want to stay more current with my travels then follow me on Instagram @w4lindia or our Facebook fan page Wells for Life.

 

So I’m back in India and so far it has been quite the trip

The title pretty much says it all.

I don’t think in all of the 15 years of travel I have ever had the trip like I’m on now.  I’m honestly to tired to share a lot but suffice it to say it started in Kansas City with a delayed flight which caused me to miss my connection in Chicago which rerouted me to Hyderabad instead of Delhi and somehow my suitcase stayed in Chicago.

Once in India, thankfully I had a carry on with a change of clothes, I was able to make a quick connection to fly to the capital city of Bhubaneshwar and grab a hotel for about 5 hours till my train left.  I finally arrived at my destination 6 hours later and was happy to be there.

Following day I opened 5 new bore wells and got to spend much of the day on a motorbike which was a lot of fun then came the word that the following day a strike was to be called which essentially would shut down the trains, roads, shops and banks. That’s code for get out of town ASAP, so that’s what I did.  Cut my visit short a day and an 8 hour drive later I was back in the capital city of Odisha waiting for an early morning taxi ride to the airport to get out of Dodge.  The strike started officially at 8am but as I was leaving the hotel at 7:30 I learned people were already filling the streets and blocking traffic.

Made it safely to Hyderabad only to discover still no suitcase though I was told it made it to Delhi.  Why?  They know I am in Hyderabad and yet I guess it wanted to visit Delhi first.  Maybe tonight it will come but with my history, maybe not.

Once I arrived in Hyderabad I called my engineer to arrange for my final 3 days of travel in the state of Telangana only to discover he is sick and in bed.  I’ve spent the last 3 hours trying to arrange my schedule with this new wrench and still nothing.  My voice is shot, having issues with Air India and their call center and website and now I’m starting to get hungry and wish I had a cold Coke, a massage appointment and my swimsuit because the pool here at the hotel next to the airport is really pretty cool.  But none of these things are possible, just dinner down in the coffee shop and hopefully good sleep without jet lag.

So much more has happened which I’m not sharing cause I just don’t have the energy nor do I want to write a book so I’ll end with saying the day may be coming to a close here and I’m ready for bed and the buffet in the morning.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll figure out what I’m doing the final 4 days of my time and I’ll somehow see the remaining projects.

One can only believe!

July 2016 Telangana

20160723_123251July marks the start of my busy travel schedule to India along with final 6 weeks of time with my kids before they get back in school, so last minute trips to the lake and as much time away as possible make for a busy time.

A few days ago I jumped back on a plane and now I’m in the midst of visiting tribal areas opening bore well projects within the state of Telangana. Early mornings and late nights are to be expected and embraced otherwise the rigors of India travel overwhelms and leaves you wrecked and frustrated on the side of the road.

Yesterday I was in some places where I know white folks don’t travel or have ever seen. Three of the tribal villages are communist influenced and as short as a few years ago would have never ventured out of their homes to greet a foreigner like myself. These tribal people are living life as simply as possible and without any modern amenities save the solar panel which provides enough electricity to power a few lights. Water is accessed by a nearby stream which takes 15 to 20 minutes to walk to so having a protected and reliable water source which they can access is a huge improvement and I can argue a life enriching and if not saving one as well.

I’m continually thankful for what I have and for what I can provide. Despite the long days and nights and all the other things I experience when traveling to and within India, nothing beats the walk with a community down their dirt road to dedicate a water project. The sense of joy, appreciation and community is special and unique even if it only lasts a few moments.

Thanks to all who make what I do possible and who give so that I might give the powerful gift of life.

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Fire is Out and Rebuilding will begin

Just to update my post from a couple of weeks ago; the community affected by the fire is working with our partner Nazareth Association for Social Awareness to rebuild.  This process involves seeking financial assistance from the state government to rebuild their existing structures which were damaged.  The timing in this will be very lengthy so in the interim the funds which Wells for Life raised have been sent and utilized for temporary shelters, food, clothing and other necessities which will help them endure until the funds are made available by the state government.

Thank you to those who so generously gave and responded to this need.  Access to water already exists so there is no further need from our standpoint to invest in the rebuilding efforts for these people.  Again, much thanks was expressed to us for the aid which we were able to provide.

Fire Near Tuni

I received this email late last night from one of our partners in S. India and I wanted to share it as an immediate need exists to make a difference in the lives of some people who have suffered a tragedy.

On 15th March 2016, evening, a fire accident occurred in a village outside Tuni due to short circuit. At that time all the residents – 11 downtrodden families went to go for their regular works like selling of items hair, hair pins, small plastic toys and combs etc. 6 houses have been burned including their clothes, utensils, cots and all their little possessions. Their small tents have also collapsed. Now they are outside on platforms, pavement sides. They have no food, water, clothes,

We intend to immediately respond in their dire need and support with some relief materials.  For approximately $200/per family, we can provide rice (10 kgs each), clothes for each family, temporary tent, utensils, some vegetables and groceries. For 11 families, we are looking to raise $2,200.

If you want to give towards this immediate need, just make a donation now on our Give page and mark your gift Fire.IMG_9921 IMG_9927 IMG_9930 IMG_9941 PR Peta victims - 15-03-16 (2) PR Peta victims - 15-03-16 (4) PR Peta victims - 15-03-16 (8) PR Peta victims - 15-03-16 (21) (1) PR Peta victims - 15-03-16 (21) PR Peta victims - 15-03-16 (23) PR Peta victims - 15-03-16

62 and 708

By all accounts my thoughts were 2015 was going to be a down year for contributions and resultantly funding for new projects.  Even in December when I travelled to Hyderabad and spent several days with the majority of my partners I expressed my doubt that we would meet project numbers as giving was down by more than 25%.  My thought was 45 would be the number we hit by month’s end and as such I was preparing myself for that number.

45 was a number we did about 6 years ago and since then have averaged around 60 water projects in addition to the support we extend for a host of other programs ranging from financial support for people affected by leprosy, HIV and Aids, tutoring or after school programs for school age children, medical camps and the list goes on.

Then the miraculous happened; people gave, and gave, and gave.  I haven’t looked at our numbers in depth yet but I know that on December 30th I wired funds to one of our partners which brought our project totals for 2015 to 62 new water projects which means that 708 places have received clean water since I started Wells for Life back in May of 2001.

62 is nothing short of amazing and miraculous just as 708 is and again this is just water.  These numbers don’t take into account all of the other work we have and continue to accomplish.  The work is holistic in nature and far ranging but the goal is the same, to make a transformative difference in rural India.

We are a grass roots organization, working with indigenous partners who themselves are grassroots and as such we can enjoy wonderful results with the resources that donors entrust to you.  No private jets to whisk us around or fancy cars or houses to divert funds into; just simple people doing the work of a servant with a mind to touch the lives of others who desperately need a touch.

Right now I’m back in India for the 2nd time this year, 15 projects to see in 2 places within south India and I’m reminded how important our work is.  Sometime I wonder if I’m cut out for this work of sacrifice and service and in reality I guess on its face, I’m not, but I can say my heart has changed and I recognize my life isn’t my own and so I walk in the footsteps of another who has gone before me and prepared the way.

2016 appears to be a year of new things and I am looking forward to what it brings.