Struggles for Water

It was for an exposure visit that I was sent to the high range village of Kanakakkunnu, (which means ‘Golden Hill’) in the district of Idukki, kerala. It is around 30 km away from kattappana town, which is a main pocket in the district. My journey from kattappana to Kanakakkunnu was an exciting one in a small bus which was fully packed with students returning from schools. Kattappana has got good number of reputed English medium schools run by different religious orders of the Catholics. Of course, the other Christian denominations and religious organizations have also got their presence in the scenario. So, carrying the hopes and expectations of the poor villagers, students would travel up and down in search of knowledge.

The roads, of course, resembled life with ups and downs. At one moment, you will be finding your bus climbing the steep hill like a mountaineer and suddenly you may fly downwards the next moment. This process of going up and coming down continued till the end of the journey. The boy who stood near me was a talkative and he never allowed me enjoy my first trip through this area. He wanted to know everything about my job, the professional qualification that made me worthy to take up the job, its potential for the future and a number of other similar queries. At last, he got out after taking the link to my space in Orkut, a social website.

My mission was to visit some areas where my organization had taken up some projects to provide drinking water for the people with water scarcity and to collect their feedback. Due to the geographical and topographical specialties of the area all the water sources get dried up by the end of January every year. There begins the troubles and tribulations of the villagers, most of whom are daily wage earners. Many shared with me their experiences of sleepless nights near the streams to fetch water as it comes out. There were some others who started carrying water from certain far away sources at the tender age of ten.

This particular need of the villagers was identified by my agency in the year 2008. In collaboration with certain external agencies, they formulated a project to provide water tanks, with the capacity of 10000 liters, to the deserving families. The beneficiaries also agreed to contribute at least 10% of the total expense for the tank. Around fifty tanks were constructed at that time and the efforts of my agency were widely appreciated. It helped the people to collect rain water from their roof top into the tanks. The filtered water remains clean and hygienic throughout the year. A family with three or four members can make use of this water for their cooking needs during summer, four to five months.

Though there are a number of projects implemented by different agencies to make drinking water available to all like water shed management, rain water harvesting etc, the share that reaches the beneficiaries is very meager. I received a number of requests from people for assistance to construct more and more tanks. Every agency has got its own limitations. But we all can at least make people aware of the need to preserve water. It is good to have some first hand knowledge of the people’s struggle for water. It will make us more cautious while using any of the natural resources. Let there be water and let there be life for the generations to come.

(a rain water harvesting tank is seen in the photo)PB120569

Navajeevana Children

Navajeevana’, means ‘New Life’. Navajeevana, a home for street children at Chamarajpet, Bangalore, is an attempt from the part of a religious congregation to give the rays of a new life to hundreds of underprivileged children.

Last week I had a chance to spend some time with these children at Navajeevana, which is a home for around 150 girls of the age group 1-15. Many of them are orphans and a few are abandoned by their parents. The centre has got a number of social workers who go to the different corners of the city in search of the children who are roaming around in bus stations and railway stations begging. Such girls are taken to the centre where they are provided with food, shelter, security and the facilities to attend school. Besides, policemen from the nearby police station also bring children to this centre.

Bangalore, one among the big cities in India, has also become a home to thousands of street children. Urbanization has facilitated the flow of unskilled as well as skilled workers to the city in search of jobs to sustain them. The skilled workers never find it difficult to find a job and enjoy a contented living. On the other hand, the unskilled ones like, construction workers, quarry workers, household workers etc find it very difficult to make the both ends meet. Since reproduction has got its normal course among them, the number of children keeps arising and the parents are already deprived of all the means to take care of their needs. As a result, they are abandoned or thrown to the streets for begging.

There is yet another group of children who are run-aways from interior villages. These children are often trapped by different gangs, who later send them to various parts of the city to beg. In the evening, they all come back and give the day’s collection to the leaders. Such children are also rescued by Navajeevana at times.

The children can spend their lives at Navajeevana till they manage to get a job after the completion of their education and the management makes sure that the girl is now in a position to support herself with the job she has. The centre has also arranged the marriage of many of these girls. The Directress of the centre shared an interesting story of a wedding they recently had at Navajeevana. The girl had been an inmate of the centre for more than eight years and she was working outside. A young and rich boy from Mangalore happened to meet this girl from the street. Later, he came to the centre and met the Directress to express his willingness to marry the girl. In order to know more in detail about him, she, along with the girl, went to the boy’s house and found everything satisfactory. Both the parties waved the green flag. Since the girl grew up in a Christian environment, before the wedding, the boy’s family conducted a ceremony, which lasted for three days, to convert the girl into Hinduism. It gave me immense joy to know that the centre gave more importance to her life than the faith she practiced. These kind of stories must be brought out to the public where there is no hesitation to kill one another to protect and sustain faith.

You will also see a photograph of some of the small children of Navajeevana with innocent smile on their lips. For most of them, the only concern is three times food a day. Will you and I be able to give a better future to these children with peace, hope, love and security?100_1366.JPG