Wrapping up January and I think I’m still trying to figure out where December went. This time of year is normally busy for me with all my travels to India which seems to be nonstop starting in September however this past year I cut out December and January’s trip so I won’t see the Selfie capital of the world till late February. I only bring up the selfie thing because in the news today was a story of an Indian guy in Hyderabad taking a selfie next to the train tracks with an oncoming train and sure enough, he was hit, but lucky for him, wasn’t killed. A head scratcher for sure, I guess anything for that perfect selfie. Speaking of selfie, here’s one of me from my trip this past November. LOL.
Highlights from 2017 –
- 59 water projects funded
- Annual support for leper community
- Annual support for Lydia’s Girl’s Hostel including bunk beds and Christmas gifts
- Solar Panel and paint for a Children’s Home of 235
- Emergency Water Camps
- Electrical Grid panel repair and school bus funding for primary school
- Startup costs for 2 medical clinics
2018 marks also a rise in what I am now asking people to contribute for our water projects. For more than a decade we were able to provide hand pump projects for $2000 and at this price we were afforded the ability to put some money aside into an escrow account to address future maintenance on our projects. This past year, one of the items our Board of Directors tackled was a Director’s salary both for the present and for the future as part of a succession plan for that time when I need to step aside. It’s somewhat strange to think of leaving something you started so long ago, something you have poured your life and soul into but that’s reality, at some point I will need to fade away and allow someone younger to pick up where I left off and take Wells for Life to places I could only have imagined.
I honestly don’t have any idea when my time will come but they say it’s never too early to prepare so, we’ve begun those steps which meant a salary for me which in turn means a new “ask” for our projects. Our new number is $2500; still a reasonable and affordable number for clean water especially when you look at what we do, where we do it and the peace of mind that I’ll be there cutting the ribbon and drawing the water. Proof positive that your donation is making a difference in rural India.
I leave with some photos of those whose lives were touched this past year by your generosity!
This past November I traveled to Trichy to visit our DPWA partners, Dhana and his son Prasanna, and because of their work, 11 new projects were opened many of them schools along with a home for the physically and mentally challenged. It had been a little over a year since I was there last and it was good to be back in familiar surroundings opening new projects and seeing the impact being made in the area with clean water.
This particular trip was really short, 5 days in fact. I missed a day on the front end due to a delayed flight out of Kansas City which caused a missed connection in Chicago, but once I reached India everything went smoothly. Getting in the country took a bit of time but once the immigration fellows realized I wasn’t a threat my passport was stamped and I was granted entry.
So what’s next?
I’m hoping to take a break actually and not travel in January. We’ll see if that holds up. I’ve traveled 6 times this year and last so taking a break might not be a bad idea. I do have a ticket for late February/early March and plan on opening 6 projects in NW India and maybe some more in other areas, just not sure at this point as these decisions are based upon the level of our year-end giving.
When it comes to year-end giving, we, like all the other non-profits rely on those gifts to carry out our programs. What set’s us a part from many of them is the fact that most of our contributions are used on programs, like bringing clean water and making an impact in the lives of men, women and children like you see here in this post. This year we have brought water to over 50 places and I’m hoping we’re not done.
As you consider your end of year giving, take that next step and give, go ahead, make a difference and stand with me in bringing positive change to rural places in India.
Have a wonderful and blessed Christmas!!
In a few weeks I’ll be back in India opening 10 new projects, this time in Tamil Nadu, which will bring our work to 51 fresh water projects this year.
Demand along with desire remains high throughout rural India for water projects especially in underserved areas where people have no access to water in their homes. Reportedly these 10 new places were of great need and now with the trip set I have learned an even greater need exists in some new communities so shifting of resources has taken place. Why do I share this? Transparency mainly and to highlight the fact that plans change, even the best laid ones, especially when working with other cultures and contexts. As a result, one must remain flexible, understanding and open minded when changes like this crop up.
Bottom line though for me is that people are served but further investigation is needed to understand why the change and is it the best course of action for the indigenous partner for whom we work through and for whom responsibility rests, or do we disregard the desires of the partner and just focus on the community and what it is they want or need?
I wish there was a quick and easy answer but honestly more work and thought needs to be done with all involved but in short, preference towards sustainability should be considered along with who derives the most benefit with the aim of serving the “least of these” first.
Time will tell how this all shakes out and I’m trusting in the fact that our partners, who have been serving the poor for over 20 years in their District, know better than I what’s best in their context and community and as such will share with me the steps they took to reach the decisions they made.
Working in India always has its challenges yet not without a lot of rewards, so even in this situation I’m looking forward to the payoff; changed lives because of clean water.
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.
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 I was contacted about carrying out a water project for one of the slum areas in Hyderabad and the question was whether or not I could implement a project here. The answer of course was yes with the condition that my engineer could find an aquifer which was suitable for the needs of the community which would be utilizing the project.
Testing was carried out and a green light was given which I then communicated back to my new friend who told me his plan to fund this project. He called it a 50 50 project because the goal is for Indians to be helping Indians, thus the name of the well, 50/50, which means partnership.
The goal in this project is really a great picture of what I have wanted Wells for Life to be since its inception; strengthen the local NGO to make a more holistic impact in the lives of the people they are seeking to reach. Don’t do the work for them, but do it with them with a step or two behind so that they are in the lead. This same sentiment was echoed by the guy who was rallying his friends towards this cause, “I do not want this to feel like white people helping Indians. I want this to feel like we are all in this together and the well diggers and the village leaders and David from Wells for Life and you and Sudhakar are just as important, even more important than me and my friends here.”
What a great testimony to his desire and our effort, a resounding affirmation that we’re on the right track in our efforts and now here are a few photos from the project dedication.