Cyclone Fani hit the NE Indian state of Odisha with quite the punch last week. Reportedly winds were blowing at 120 mph and gusting to 150 mph which meant any weak infrastructure would meet its demise. Thankfully the state government of Odisha was quick to respond and amazingly evacuated over 1 million people within a short period of time, which saved 10’s of thousands of lives.
One of our project partners, STEP, has its base of operations in Odisha and despite being some 45 miles inland from the coast, experienced damaging winds and rains, thankfully though none of their structures were harmed. As the Cyclone blew past Odisha and moved towards Bangladesh, the staff at STEP began to mobilize and strategize on how they could provide disaster relief and first aid in the surrounding rural villages. They have since sent teams to survey the damage in the surrounding areas and have developed a plan to provide needed Relief for those negatively impacted. The relief will be simple and basic, but so necessary; food, water and clothing. With some time and resources, they hope to help with providing shelter or engage in reconstruction projects for those who lost roofs or walls to their simple homes.
If you would like to learn more about the work that STEP is doing to help the victims of Cyclone Fani, please visit their website at STEP International and consider giving a gift to help them bring a helping hand to some very needy people in rural Odisha.
I’m often asked why I don’t take a Spring trip to India and
as always, the answer is the same: it’s too hot! I get enough heat as it is when I travel late
July through October so staying away from mid-March through most of July seems
pretty smart to me. Truthfully, many
drilling contractors don’t like working in the summer because of the heat and
humidity so project implementation slows down considerably for me during late
Spring and into the hot Summer.
Knowing things slow down, I decided to take time and fix a few body parts that have been adversely affecting me; namely pain, numbness and tingling in both hands and elbows. Over the years I’ve tried different remedies but to no lasting relief, so I decided it’s time for the knife. On April 1, I had the first of two surgeries and trusting that these bring necessary relief and prevent any further aggressive surgery, if not, then my next step is a cervical disk replacement at a couple of levels. I’m sharing these things to say; reality is catching up to me really quick; my body isn’t young anymore. No doubt the consistent overseas travels these past 18 years along with the other physical activities that I engage in week in and week out have taken their toll and so finally I’m going to do something about the damage so that I can continue to do what I do with minimal long term disruption.
Even now, as I type and you read, millions of men, women and
children within rural India are living and yes, struggling because they don’t
have access within their homes or even nearby their home to clean water. For some, walking distances with a single pot
or bucket is a necessary reality and this multiple times a day for everyday
needs and use. It seems that this kind
of situation shouldn’t exist in today’s fast paced society, but it does, and I
witness it firsthand in each village I visit, which is why I’m there. Seeking to make a difference with a new water
reliable and accessible water source.
To date, over 900 places are benefitting from clean water as
a result of our efforts and outreach.
All of our work is taken up by local people, overseen by our indigenous
partners who are involved in their respective areas seeking to make a difference
in bringing positive change through a variety of means and methods. Our work is grassroots and as such we have
minimal overhead, which means we can respond quickly to needs and change
provided the resources are available.
This is where your help comes into play, without your financial gifts,
we can’t respond, and as such, we can’t save lives.
Water is life.
Without water we die; with dirty or contaminated water, sickness
prevails and left unchecked, well, you’ll be visiting the grave.
We can change this and sure we can get complex in our
methodology and strategy, but do we need too?
Can we not just see the problem, investigate it at the ground level,
speak to the parties involved and then come up with a solution that positively
impacts those affected? I think we can,
and this is what we seek to accomplish through our partners; after all, they’re
the ones on the ground, living and working in the areas where the need exists,
so let’s empower them to get the job done.
Any gift, large or small helps us make a difference; will
you act now and join us?
Here are some pictures of recently completed projects in some deserving areas in the rural places of Odisha and Karnataka.
With our work in India I come across many different organizations making a difference, usually in small ways, an incremental change here and another one there, before you know it, you look back and see the impact that has been done. Often this work is unheralded by others and yet, it continues as in the case of one of my partners Ashirwad Kendra Trust.
Quietly, they have involved themselves in meeting the needs
of many tribal villages within the mountains of Gujarat through their mobile
medical unit, bore well program, hostel for young girls and a English Medium
school for little ones. Their work has
been going on for over 11 years now and has grown in size and scope since their
beginning in 2007. Just recently they
decided to move forward in building a permanent multi use classroom on their
site using some new building materials that have reduced the cost of
traditional construction by about 20%. I
call attention to their work with the tribals because in talking with them you
wouldn’t even know the impact or the extent of their work, which is literally a
few people who have committed their lives to service, regardless of the cost,
in order to touch lives and make a difference in an area which many don’t
venture to because it’s far away with no fanfare.
As with most small NGO’s (non-government organizations) resources are tight and often scarce so you pray a lot and talk to as many folks as you can sharing your mission and vision hoping for some support. This is the reality for Ashirwad Kendra Trust (ASK) and is one reason I wanted to highlight them and call attention to their work. To learn more of what they are involved in visit their website: https://www.asktrust.org/
If you would like to be involved in their work, then the
best thing you can do is give. Wells for
Life will handle any financial gifts intended for ASK and not take a fee, we’ll
just collect, receipt, and forward the gift so that they can receive maximum benefit
of that gift.
I have complete trust in their work and their vision to make a difference in tribal Gujarat and ask that you join them in their efforts to touch lives through medicine and education.
You never know what you’re going to get when you travel in the winter; flight delays and cancellations, missed connections or any number of things making travel stressful, but nothing is better than hearing your name called over the loudspeaker asking you to hurry and board your flight. This was the case at DFW and I believe I walked a little slower just so I could hear the repeated calls for “Mr. Michael Viser please proceed to gate 41 for your London Heathrow flight.” Fast forward 12 days, I’m now in the London Heathrow airport flagging down a Concierge cart to take me to my gate so I don’t miss my flight back to DFW; coming and going I was flying loose and on the edge.
I’ve been active in India for 18 years now and have brought water to over 900 places and this year I’ve experienced something that I’ve never experienced before and that was the way I was thanked.
In the 1st instance, the dedication was over and people were returning to the inside of their church when this little girl, who was probably 5 turned and ran towards me. When she reached me she wrapped her arms around my legs, looked up, smiled really big, and in her native tongue said “Thank You.” I stood there in disbelief, looked around to see if anyone had captured this moment on camera, and saw no one paying attention. I realized this was just a special moment for me, a gift from above letting me know that my work is not in vain but always under His watchful eye.
The 2nd instance happened in another village. There were probably 50 people gathered around the handpump, all excited for us to open the project, and after sharing about the donor and their gift, I cut the ribbon and pumped till water began to flow. It was great fun and after all the laughter had died down and we began to make our way to the car, one of the women made a bee line for me and with a big smile wrapped her arms around me in a hug I haven’t gotten since, well, I can’t remember when. After what seemed like a long time, she let go and then grabbed my hand. We walked hand in hand to the car which took a few minutes and then once in, I looked around and the road was now lined, on both sides, with women from the village; all to thank us for the gift of water.
I couldn’t help but think of the uniqueness and the demonstration of gratitude that was put on display in that village, but then the thought came, “why not?”
Not many return to say thanks but when they do; it’s something special.
I’m often asked “Does water really matter?” The answer is a resounding “yes,” just try going without it for a day or two and see how you end up. Better yet, go find a bucket and then force yourself to fill that bucket with water for all your needs that day, regardless of whether its drinking, bathing, cooking or washing, and make sure you are using a tap from outside. That’s the reality for millions and millions of people in rural India, but they don’t have the luxury of just walking a few feet outside and turning on a reliable tap; that’s your luxury.
Their reality is a much longer walk and possibly a tap which may or may not yield water or if they access a hand pump, it might take a little time of pumping before the water begins to flow.
So yes, access to clean water matters, which is why financial support for our work is so necessary.
Making an impact doesn’t take more than a gift to a reliable source and that source would be me. The majority of what you give goes into bringing water to needy places in rural India.
In 2012 I met Christopher Premdas at Light of Love Children’s Home in Tuni, and the encounter was a begrudging one at first until I shook his hand. He introduced himself in typical fashion; “Hello, I’m Christoper Premeds, welcome to NASA.” When I took his hand, I heard the Lord speak to me that I was sent to lift his hands and for the past 13 years I have tried to faithfully do just that.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars have flowed through Wells for Life® in support of the many activities of Nazareth Association for Social Awareness and it was through his encouragement and admonition that Schaun Colin and I worked towards starting New Life Children’s Home.
In addition to the children, huge work was done with women empowerment, social justice, Dalit rights, land acquisition and the hundreds upon hundreds of water projects which we implemented as a way of making a difference and displaying to the low caste and untouchables that they matter.
A legacy has been left and a grand entrance into Heaven has taken place a short time ago. My only regret is that these last few years were marked by pain and blindness due to his ever worsening diabetes.
Dr. Premdas was my friend and my brother, he was a hero to me and often left me in tears in his office as he shared about the realities of rural life for his people in India.
He is survived by his wife Joythi, his 2 sons Sujeet Nuthulapaty and Sony Wood Nuthulapaty and his daughter, Neelima Pallae Nutulapathy.
Keep them all in your prayers during this time of loss and may all those in the Tuni area see Jesus and the difference that he made as a result of Jesus in his life.
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.