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 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.
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.
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.
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.
On this #GivingTuesday, I leave for India; spending time with our partners and visiting 7 newly completed clean water projects in N. India.
Over 3 Billion $ was spent yesterday on #CyberMonday, what if those you spent that kind of cash spent at least that same amount today making a difference locally and globally? Certainly change could happen.
Be part of the change and make a gift today to Wells for Life by texting the word WATER to 913-800-8988 or click the DONATE button here on our website.
Let’s do this!
It’s the final quarter of 2015, 3 months to go and it’s hard to believe that I have 2 more trips to India on the calendar! Much planning has gone into this year and marks a milestone for me personally and organizationally. First, this past September I hit the half century mark and maybe by turning 50 I’ll finally begin to think of myself as “sir” instead of “hey kid”. Seriously, when I’m in a public place and I hear “sir” I turn around and look for the fellow being spoken to without realizing they’re talking to me. The second highlight involves Wells for Life. I’m bringing together all of our partners into one place, It’s our first ever Global Summit. We’ll meet in Hyderabad for 2 1/2 days and in that short amount of time I’m trusting each of these men will come away with a renewed sense of who they are and what they’re called to accomplish. Speaking of accomplishments, here’s a snapshot of 2015 to date;
- 45 new water projects
- 2 sewing centers
- Fish farm
- Chicken farm
- Sawyer Point One Water Filters for the Nepal earthquake
- 1 year’s support for Lydia’s Girls hostel
- 6 months of support for medical camps
- After school tutoring program
691 is the number of water projects since 2001 and as you know Wells for Life is now more than just water. All of this is because people just like you care and give, so thank you for your gift that truly does change lives each and every day in rural India.
The trip is in the books; I’m taking care of some last minute items here in Delhi and will board my flight around 1am for the US. 10 projects were dedicated in Andhra Pradesh with one of our partners there; 7 in one day followed by 3 the next. One thing which became more clear to me was that the recovery time between car rides to and from dedications is getting longer and longer. Seems like 9 hours in a car dedicating projects was a piece of cake but some 14 years later that cake is becoming more like gelatin which needs more time to set up.
Thankfully though the time in each village dedicating a project is still rewarding and worthwhile especially when the villagers have “that” look in their eyes when the project begins producing the water and now what they have sought for has become a reality. Then more often than not, more proposals come, community centers, roofs, houses, fields, seed, cows, schools; all asked for with a glimmer of hope in their voices.
Yet this is what Wells for Life is about, we’re not the catch all NGO, but what we are is one which seeks to work holistically in its approach along with our indigenous partners so that a difference can be made and we start with clean water. From that point, further collaboration and sometimes funding with the aim of bringing a community towards self sufficiency.
I have included a few pictures from my trip and of course there are hundreds more but I’ll save most of those for our Flickr page, in the meantime enjoy these and a huge thanks to our donors who made each of the 10 projects in S. India possible. It was a pleasure to represent you at each and to share about the life change that takes place when we surrender our lives and serve.
Funds have been received for 12 new water projects in South India benefiting thousands of rural men, women and children. Additionally we also funded 5 months of medical camps and looking forward to hear each month about the impact that is being had through these free clinics.
Huge thanks to those who continue to give towards our work and 3 projects were “funded in faith” without sponsors so if you want to get in on sponsoring one of these three projects, contact me!
A few months ago Wells for Life extended funding for a fish and chicken farm as part of a sustainability project for one of our N. Indian partners and just a few days back an email was sent of 2 photos of the digging which is underway. Ideally within another week everything will be complete and the next stage is to drill a bore well to provide the pond with fresh water. Once that is complete it will be time to purchase fish, plant some trees surrounding the pond and then start on the chicken farm. The entire project is slated for completion this Fall.