October and Awareness Sucks

A quick update on our 2021 progress –

I made my first trip to India the last week of July and into the first part of August and saw many of our water projects which were carried out during the beginning of the year along with a handful of projects from 2020.  Being back in India after an 18-month break became an eye-opening experience for me in that I realized how comfortable I had become staying home and doing my part to stay COVID free. I realized that by not traveling, I had become rigid, inward focused, and really sensitive towards others who might be encroaching on my space, after all we are in a pandemic. Naturally then, who wants to venture out and really see the plight of those living on the other side of the world? The adage that awareness sucks really does apply here, at least to me. Despite COVID and my internal feels and reservations from those close to me, I ventured out and made the trip to India, and as you might expect: awareness sucks. Now a fresh perspective exists on how spoiled I am and how the color of my skin gives me certain advantages over many when I’m moving around in India. So yes, the trip was a new, eye-opening experience for me and one which reminds me how much more work needs to be done, both in myslef and in India.

A difference has been made over these last 20 years of being involved in India, yet again, there’s so much more to do.

On my final day in Tamil Nadu, I traveled out into the interior and saw one of our larger projects which we completed early 2021.  This project provided water for a home run by some Catholic Fathers who are working with physically and mentally handicapped people. Our project met the drinking water needs and also supplied enough water for them to cultivate a few acres of land so they could grow some vegetables which would be used as part of the daily meals and any excess to be sold at market as part of an income generating scheme.

I was impressed with their work with these people and felt it was right to hear their requests about a few other projects similar to what I had just taken up, but farther into the interior.  I was told these place were really some distance and at least 2 days were needed for travel and observation of the work.  I didn’t have that time to spare but I commissioned my partner to see the work and my decision would be based upon their assessment and recommendation.

My partnes did in fact make the trip out to the interior and of the 5 projects they saw, their recommendation is that 4 of them be taken up as soon as possible.  Here are those projects –

#1. Provide water for a Higher Secondary School targeting the visually impaired for which they currently have 110 kids, and on the same property extend pipe to meet the water needs of buildings used to care for 52 mentally ill patients. The scope of the project requires a deep bore well with submersible pump along with necessary piping and connections for both facilities to have access to clean, safe water.  The cost for this project at Amalarakini is $4,000.

#2. A livestock project which is income generating and benefits the Higher Secondary School and Home for the mentally disabled described above at Amalarakini.  The infrastructure and the experience currently exists, it’s now time to scale it up so that more profitability can be had which will offset some of the operational expenses of running both programs.  The project cost is $8,000 and will purchase 7 cows and 30 pigs.

#3. Provide water for a Higher Secondary School which has 300 kids who are boarded there and another 1,000 who attend, so total student population of 1,300.  The school is facing water scarcity issues and has appealed to Wells for Life to provide a new deep bore well with a submersible pump motor and storage tanks to meet the current demand.  The project cost for this Boy’s School in Susai Nagar is $4,000.

#4. Provide a deep bore well with a greater HP submersible pump motor to benefit a Higher Secondary School with 200 children and to irrigate a 10-acre field as part of an income generating project to help offset the school’s operating expenses.  The cost for this project at Mullipatti is $5,000.

I appreciate the time and consideration given towards these immediate and worthwhile needs. I know there are multiple demands for your generosity and all I can do is present our need and ask that you consider meeting it. The rest is up to you.

To give towards any one of these needs or all of them, just click here – Donate Now and when you get to the section for Special Instructions, tell me which project number you want to give towards, and that’s where I’ll make sure your gift goes.

Thanks again for taking the time!

August Post Trip Update

Almost 2 weeks ago I returned from India and on this trip, I was able to see 15 new water projects spread over 3 states, and yes, many hours were spent on planes and in cars, but it was well worth it.  More than ever, I saw the importance of being in person, as the conversations were richer, more insightful towards cultural cues and norms, and organically produced and led in nature. In addition to this, just being in a village and seeing the people who are benefiting from our work was amazing and no doubt the feeling was mutual.

COVID certainly played a big role in my trip and presented some challenges, but despite the necessary testing, additional paperwork, diminished flight schedules and food offerings in the hotels, and of course mask wearing, I managed. In regard to COVID, India has overcome the worst of what they experienced in April and May with the countless deaths, bodies lines the streets, cues of ambulances waiting to get patients into hospitals for treatment; all of that is gone, for now, what remains is a push to stress the importance of hand washing, social distancing, and mask wearing along with being vaccinated.  Cues which all of us can adopt and live with as they certainly aren’t life threating.

The other hurdle which I faced and not so easily identified was internal and it wasn’t until I got home and was in conversation with my wife and a few other people on separate occasions that I could pinpoint it, and that was experiencing life on the other side of the world.  Because of COVID my travels in 2020 were cut short, I only made 2 trips out of a planned 6, and as a result of not being in India for 16 months, just about everything about my life became rather comfortable despite the COVID lockdown.  The best way to explain it is, I didn’t have to come face to face with all the challenges that India presents as an emerging nation. I had a safe place to call home, I had running water, reliable transportation, and health care, I had access to pretty much anything I wanted, sure I might have to stand in line for an hour, but it was there waiting for me to purchase it. I realize places in the US didn’t fare as well as my suburban life in Kansas, but India was far worse than anything being experienced in the US, and despite not being there during the worst of times, being there between the 2nd and anticipated 3rd wave, weighed heavily on me internally, and showed me how resilient Indians are, and now privileged and spoiled I have become.  It is hard to admit this but I’ve come to accept it, my life is blessed more than I know and I experienced it during my trip, I didn’t have to wait in the same lines, I wasn’t asked for certain documents, I was given 5-star treatment wherever I went, all things that I have grown accustomed to receiving and yet the average Indian doesn’t experience because they’re not white and from America.

How do I change?

Working on that right now.

One thing for certain is that this trip gave me a fresh perspective, one which is akin to my 1st and 2nd trip to India, my eyes and my heart are more open than in the past, and God willing, more receptive to doing something in order to make a difference and create some impact.

God help me!

Masked up and ready to fly!

A window exists and I am taking it!

Quarantines, lockdowns, and curfews within India have lifted!  For how long?  No one really knows at this point, but this opening is what I have been waiting for in order to travel. I have the appropriate Business Visa to be allowed in the country, I have my negative COVID test and I am fully vaccinated, so the time is now to go!

My trip is threefold:

  1. To meet with a Pump Manufacturer to see if there are any economies of scale I can take advantage of for securing hand pumps for my projects.
  2. Visit projects recently completed in Tamil Nadu and Andra Pradesh.
  3. Reconnect in person with those we partner with.

Not having traveled for over 18 months has me somewhat anxious about the trip, yet I know that once I get on the plane, all of my experience will come back to me and this trip will be a welcome adventure.

My travel dates are the 23rd to August 8, and will be going through Doha on Qatar, which is a first, and something I swore I would never do, but here I am doing it.

COVID continues to disrupt lives all over the globe and I have no idea when things will get better, but I do know that need still exists all around us, which is why I am trying to do something in order to make a difference and create some lasting impact in the lives of rural men, women and children of India.

April 2

A year of COVID is behind us and yet many of us are still working from home and carrying out work via Teams or Zoom calls and were wondering when we can get rid of our masks and go back in public without fear of risking our health or that of others.  No easy answers on this one, other many a viable vaccine or herd immunity.

India continues to experience its fair share of problems related to COVID and for me, her borders are still closed.  Due to COVID, many restrictions have come into place with one of them being the cancellation of all previously issued Visas.  I have since applied for a new Visa and was granted a 1-year Visa with 3 visits starting in June and extending to May of 2022.  Not ideal for me but I will have to make it work.

Thankfully much of what Wells for Life accomplishes is carried out in India independent of my presence.  In fact, COVID has shown me that our partners are more than competent and have done a fantastic job in carrying on and seeing our mission of providing clean, safe water accomplished in 60 new places last year.  That is right!  60 places received clean, safe drinking water despite COVID and despite a 30% drop in giving.

I can only imagine once the economy starts picking up and people feel the freedom to give, what we will be able to accomplish.

There is no lack of villages to touch with clean water, so when you are ready to give, we are ready to receive your gift and make the most out of it.

To give and support our work in 2021, visit Donate | Wells for Life

Stay safe and let us believe together that better days are ahead!!