990 long form is finally done!

One of the perks of being a nonprofit and having donations greater than $200k is you get to file the long form of the 990 otherwise known as the “Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax” aka a miserable, hellish experience to compile.

Seeing though many long hours went into its completion along with a variety of necessary schedules you can, if you so choose, download it and review it here.  2013 Form 990

Not sure really why you would want to however I know many of you are interested in numbers so give us a look and make sure you have something to eat or drink because it’s a long one.

The latest and greatest

The challenge for me is to always in-capsulize my trip in a short enough version to where folks will read it, after all a ton of stuff got done and this for some reason was one of my more memorable trips. Tough to narrow down the highlights but one was I traveled with a friend from N. California and he didn’t snore! Can’t tell you how huge that is and you would think ear plugs could drown out any noise but they don’t cause I’ve tried so anytime that I travel and if I happen to share a room then snoring can’t be in the mix and if it is, well then I’m miserable the next day.

Aside from this, highlights were 11 project dedications; 7 in the hill tribe region of Southern Gujarat and 4 in 2 southern districts of Andhra Pradesh.  In addition to the water project dedications and seeing again huge impact due to clean water there were 2 other things that affected me.  The first was while Dave and I were in Gujarat after dedicating water projects we visited in Valsad a girl’s hostel being run by our partner there, ASK Trust.  This home had 18 young women and a house parent, the girls are considered college age which in India means they are studying in the 10 – 12 class and provided they do well in school and get high marks on their exams will have the opportunity to further their education into what we would consider the traditional college route post High School.

Most of these girls are either orphan or semi orphan though a few do have parents but because of poverty they have been told to leave as they can’t be looked after.  This was my second visit to the hostel and like my first time back in November, I was gripped with the reality that if it wasn’t for this home then their lives would be in a much different place and it wouldn’t be good. By the end of the evening I was wondering what it would take to keep the doors open, lights on and the girls safe.  The reality is the work is being funded through the savings and meager incomes of one or two people and as a result the account is just about dry.

I have been around India enough, 15 years now since my first trip, to know that an appeal will come and one of course did come but even before it came I knew in my heart these girls needed my help and so I made the commitment and I did it in faith that God would provide.  The monthly cost to run the hostel is $1,000 and so my promise is we would fund at 6 month intervals and do a review annually to determine if the support would continue.

I have been home less than 2 weeks now and just a few days ago I touched base via phone with a guy I know from So. Cal who works as a IT Consultant and in a nutshell he said he got a bonus check and couldn’t get me out of his mind so he figured that was God.  I shared different needs with him and he signed up for 2 different projects with 1 of them being 5 months of support for Lydia’s home girls.  I can’t wait to see how the remaining funds materialize and how this need will be met.

I’ll end with a photo of the girls and honestly they look much nicer when they have huge smiles, something about a group photo which translates into serious faces.  If I would have been there taking the picture you can be sure I would have done something so goofy that they would be laughing and not standing so straight.  At least though you get a look at who were working for.

Oh yes, I did say something earlier about 2 things being impactful, I’ll share the 2nd later, I promise.

Friday

Friday afternoon in Yellamanchilli, a whirlwind 2 days with 2 to go and then I make the trip home. We arrived Thursday morning at 9:15am into the Visak airport and took breakfast there in the airport then made the hour drive to New Life Children’s Home so we could drop our bags then off we went to dedicate 2 bore well projects in areas being served by SHEBA which is one of our partners in this region of Andhra Pradesh. Both of these projects were to benefit the Dalits or Untouchables and our time with these folks only lasted 30 minutes in each place due to the lateness of our arrival and the heat.

At each site you could see the joy and happiness in their eyes and faces when the water came out of the newly completed well and I was once again reminded of the value of bringing clean water to a people in a village who have been marginalized and oppressed for just being born.

Upon completing these 2 projects we drove to the NASA offices in Tuni where we met briefly with Dr. Premdas and enjoyed a short visit before we needed to move towards our final 2 project dedications which were in a more interior place than the 2 SHEBA projects. After about an hour’s drive and with the sun setting we arrived at our 3rd project and were greeted with garlands and too much fanfare. I was able to share with them about the donor who generously gave and yet wanted to remain anonymous. I took quite a few photos and the kids their really enjoyed their photos being taken and seeing immediately what they looked like. The adults got in on some of the action too and after serving us snacks and coconut water we left for our final project as the sun set behind the mountains.

The last project of the day took place in the night sky and thankfully there was a young man who agreed to hold up a light attached to the end of a 7 ft long pole and throughout our dedication and sharing time he was our sole source of light. I made it a point to recognize him for without his willingness to serve us in this way our dedication would be limited to whoever had a cell phone with a flashlight app and in this crowd there were probably only a few, certainly not enough to light up our entire group. We spent a little bit more time in this village as there was no dedication to carry out after this project, just dinner to attend to and with all the snacks and coconut water being served I wasn’t hungry and neither was Dave.

Sleep couldn’t come fast enough for me as we had been up since 5 so when the clock struck 10 I made sure I was in back to the offices of NASA with my head on a mattress and a sleeping pill in my system as jet lag is still affecting me even after 6 days.

Today is almost over, and I’m unclear as to everything we did though I do remember our meeting with a group of lepers who live next to the NASA offices. I was able to share with them and encourage them to continue to live their lives to the fullest despite being afflicted with leprosy knowing that their struggle in temporary and their future is secure. These folks are a wonderful bunch and it’s neat to see their joy being displayed when they interact with us.

Sometime this afternoon I was able to spend time with Sony and Sowyma who run Light of Love Children’s Home in Tuni and once again I was reconnected with a little guy named Elijah which they gave him a short while ago however his Telegu name is Dhumpa which in English means Potato. When I saw him this afternoon he was holding hands with another little guy his age, (3) and they looked adorable, so I decided the other boy should be named Chip. Not sure if the Indians appreciated my humor but I thought it was brilliant.

Ending the day with volleyball back at New Life Children’s Home. We were able to fit in 5 games before bed. It’s 9:30pm and we just finished cleaning up and now to go for our dinner. I think it’ll be a late night. Having fun though.

Tomorrow some meetings and a medical camp which was funded by one of Wells for Life’s donors who is a partial owner of a pharmaceutical company, with his help were able to conduct a medical camp in a village where we hope to have 200 – 300 villagers receiving basic medical care, care they otherwise wouldn’t be afforded because they lack the means to receive it. Huge thanks goes out to Pharmco Ventures for their support in our efforts to make a difference in holistic measures within the rural areas.

Tuesday, March 18 – Valsad

In Valsad and we leave around 7am for a quick bite of breakfast then an hour and half drive up to the tribal mountain region where 5 places are waiting for our arrival and project dedication. Yesterday we the Holi festival which is Hindu festival of color and sure enough most places you looked the people had splashed color on things and themselves. While we were driving to Valsad I saw some kids with small balloons which apparently were filled with a liquid mixture of color and of course they were throwing them at anything and everything they could much like tossing water balloons on a hot summer day. Thankfully we never were a target and just enjoyed the spectacle however when you hear the how and why of the festival, the true root meaning it loses its color and you realize how much bondage still exists spiritually in this part of the world.

Last night we dedicated our first project at a Tamil church. Small congregation of people with a small plot of land and like most places no direct access to water on their premises or even that nearby so they asked for water and we were able to provide it. Due to the nature of the need we felt it best to install a submersible pump motor and the church collected funds for the syntek tank and for the concrete stand that would support it. The church people also were able to collect enough funds to lay a cement floor throughout the courtyard and remove all the dirt area which when the monsoons would come would create a huge mess.

After sharing a bit with the people inside the church we moved outside to begin the dedication which was simple enough event, pull the cord so the cloth moves away from the dedication plaque then walk over to the electric panel box flip up the fuse switch to bring the power to the unit then hit the green button to turn on the pump.

The water then flows quite heavily through the 1 inch PVC pipe into the baptismal. Because the project was just completed a few days back they didn’t have a chance to plump everything but the general plan is to bring the water into the syntek tank which is resting on a platform about 10 feet off the ground and then have gravity feed water to the taps for the people and to provide water to the baptismal when necessary.

From this place we drove to a girl’s hostel and spent about 30 minutes with 20 College age girls encouraging them and hopefully inspiring them to greater things. We had a great time with them and only wished we had more as they were eager and excited to have some white visitors who took the time to be with them.

Today, more projects and more driving. Excited to see what awaits us and only wish I had slept last night.

Back and uploading

I returned last week from India and I believe jet lag is over!  Didn’t do anything to special to conquer it, just came home to sub zero temperatures and snow.  Maybe the cold and the driveway I had to clear were what I needed to kick start the body on KS time.  Regardless, it’s great to be home and back in KS even if its frigid here.

I am in the middle of uploading photos to Flickr and some of our latest project dedication photos can be found at this link; http://www.flickr.com/photos/wellsforlife/sets

One of the projects we dedicated was funded in part by the students of ORU and their chapel offerings.  The photo set from that dedication can be found in the Flickr link above; here is a glimpse of the school kids which are benefiting now from clean water thanks in large part to all the students who gave.

Another highlight for me was watching one of our projects being drilled.  Generally this entire process is complete by the time I make it to India but in this case the drill was drilling and I got to watch!  I uploaded some photos of the drilling and you can see those on our Flickr page under the set titled “Drilling a well”.  Several days later I returned and dedicated the project which was cool; start to finish in just 3 days.

This is my 13th year being involved in India and I’m grateful for the opportunities and the lessons that I have learned over the years.  Each trip I take reveals new opportunities and my hope is that you will join me in making an impact in the lives of India’s masses who are struggling because among other things they lack access to clean water.

When you give to Wells for Life, know that the gift is being used to change a life, a life like one of those precious school kids pictured above.

Feb. 2 in India

Amazingly my trip is almost over and I haven’t posted on this blog, thankfully though I have kept photos and some snippets of the trip coming through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

If you haven’t been following me there, then I encourage you to do so because quite often this is the best way for me to post how the trip is going and to show you via pictures the impact we’re making with clean water and some of our other initiatives were involved in.

We dedicated 4 water projects in the East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh, supporting and strengthening the efforts of our partners, NASA and SHEBA. Dr. Premdas is the Director and Founder of both organizations though the day to day operations for both are now in the hands of others. SHEBA is run by his daughter Neelima and son in law, Raja and it is through them that we are working in outreach to lepers, HIV/Aids people, vulnerable and at risk children along with community care centers and finally New Life Children’s Home which has 200 incredibly beautiful kids.

Our 5th water project we hoped to dedicate yesterday was still being drilled so we went by the site and spend a short time watching the incredible engineering feat of a drill at work going down in the ground and bringing up water. Amazingly enough this is only the 3rd time in 13 years that I have actually been present for the drilling of a project and I have to say, it’s pretty fun to watch!

For some villagers striking water is more exciting than hitting oil, though for us Westerners who take water for granted each day, an oil strike seems much more lucrative. In rural India it’s all about survival; living today free from bacterial illness which might be attributed to their current water source.

As foreigners, we have a lot to learn about life, its value and what really is important.

Today is Sunday and we have a lot of activities planned around the campus of New Life. Top floor dedication, a church service with the kids to attend, meeting and feeding of lepers and those suffering from HIV/Aids and maybe even squeeze in some volleyball with the 9th and 10th grade boys. Tonight there will be a cultural program put on by the children which I am sure will be nice and then the plan is to wake up early, grab some coffee and watch the Super Bowl via some Indian channel or stream it on the computer or my phone. At this point I’m not expecting a super-fast connection so it could be a less than ideal viewing experience, but we’ll see.

Monday I hope to see the village which the bore well was being drilled in yesterday and it could be that a dedication can still take place before I head to the airport in the afternoon. I’ll be in Trichy later in the day and Tuesday I have 6 projects to dedicate.

Tuesday night I head back to the airport for a flight back to Chennai. Grab a few hours of sleep at the Radisson then the long trip home. I hear there is snow and not really looking forward to leaving my wonderful India and her warm temperatures but I can’t stay longer or my family would cause a revolt.

I’ll be back in March and pick up where I have left off so until then, villages are waiting…. for their project, for their water. Help me end their waiting; $2,000 can do just that.

Donate now!

2013 in Quick Review

The books are closed on 2013 and it was a record year for us.

Water was brought to 68 new villages and communities in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Orissa.  Our total number of projects drilled since our inception now stands at 578, not to bad for someone who told God “You’ve got the wrong guy” when I heard Him say, “I want you to bring water to these people.”

Next month will be 13 years since I heard “the call” and I can honestly say its being quite the journey and it has been filled with highs and lows.  2 new charges for 2014 as mandated from on High; “Don’t compare yourself (Wells for Life) to any other organization,” and “I am your source.”

Hearing these words gives me the faith to continue to move forward and I firmly believe that God loves each and every person on this planet which is why He sent me to bring them water among other things.

For each of you who gave in 2013, thank you for responding to the leading or prompting to give and make a difference, your gift is doing just that.

Almost 2 months ago we rolled out a new video, if you haven’t seen it, follow this link, I think you’ll enjoy it and feel free to share it with your friends – http://vimeo.com/81236937

We also launched again our mobile giving site hoping to engage those that might hear about us via our Twitter or Facebook Fan Page or through some other form of media, you can visit that page if interested at http://raz.mobi/water

Finally, our logo has been filled up with the last names of all those who gave in 2013 and if the giver was a business then the full name of the business is listed. Unfortunately I can’t make the image larger so if you don’t see your name, trust me, it’s there!

In the theme of our video, many more villages are waiting, let’s make 2014 a year where we end their waiting!

Love here

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I realize its not even February but when I go to the grocery story they already have the chocolate out and the Valentines Day stuff on display so why not share some love?

Love is best when its shared, that’s its nature and I think the photograph in this post reveals love best.  Love to show up, to leave a comfortable No. Cal lifestyle and travel to the other side of the world so you can be part of something bigger than yourself.  Claire did just that; she showed up.

She demonstrated in each village she visited that she cared enough for them, complete strangers, to do something.  She helped me bring them clean water and she did it with others; she made a difference.

I would get in trouble if I didn’t mention Justin.  

Justin is a classmate of Claire and the two of them decided to make a difference in rural India and partner with Wells for Life so that clean water could become a reality in as many places as possible.  They did just that; worked and worked, asked for donations, tried a variety of different things so that water could become a reality in rural India.  Then they each brought one of their parents with them so that together they could see the impact and share the love.

Love showed up in South India each and every day we were there.

In 2013 we brought water to 68 new places and Claire and Justin were responsible for 3 of these.  As I reflect on last year’s accomplishment which was an all time high for us, and I look at what 2014 holds, I can’t help but wonder how many places we’ll be able to touch with clean water and with love.

If you want to make a difference and share the love and the dollars so that we can touch more lives then Click the GIVE button at the top of this page and as you give remember to smile because you’re changing lives!