...is the subject of the emails I have been sending out to basically everyone I know.
The fact that I was in India didn't register with me until many hours after I landed. The idea was so farfetched. I mean how many teenagers can say they truly lived as an Indian? I used a great deal of memory on my camera while I was on my way to my new home, The World Buddhist Center, as soon as I stepped out of the airport. You could think of it as a bed and breakfast. It wasn't until the second day, when the group I traveled with did a "silent walk" around the surrounding blocks of our home, that we all realized we were in India. The heavy air, disregard for traffic rules, stray dogs, and open shops were just the way of life in New Delhi, and furthermore in Dharmsala.
The people of India are living in appalling conditions. Every human being should have access to clean water. In America, we all have immediate access to healthy water via the faucet or a water fountain, in addition to bottled water. This is not the case in India. I had to ask questions about the water I was given to brush my teeth and hydrate with. "Where did this water come from? Is this water filtered?" If I wasn't careful about my intake, I could've gotten sick.
I didn't have any issues with the water, but what about the thousands of Indians (not excluding the millions from different countries who also deal with this on a daily basis), who don't have access to clean water? They have no choice but to drink what they are given, which is only a detriment to their health. According to charitywater.org, "Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war." This is such an alarming fact, especially since I don't have to worry about where my next glass of water is coming from. As soon as I think of drinking water, I know where to get it from. There isn't any second guessing, a luxury that I didn't realize I had until I saw this atrocity first hand.
It is normal for small children, who should be in school, to walk miles and miles with their mothers, just to get water, which is most likely polluted. Not only is this a health issue, but who is to say that they won't get harassed or assaulted along the way? There are so many issues in India that need to be brought to attention, just as there are in every country, but how can I help?
This was the question that constantly crossed my mind subsequent to my return to the U.S. I honestly did not know what project I could partake in that would reflect my experience in India, until I ran across an ad for the organization, Charity Water. "This is perfect!", I thought to myself. I can't eradicate the issue of unhygienic water in India, but this will give me the foundation to enlighten my community and to actually raise money so that families in India could always have access to clean tap water.
With the help of many supporters, $665 have been raised, providing 14 people with clean the water. The campaign deadline is Dec. 31, 2013, with the goal for $5,100, and I still plan to achieve this goal. While it is very unlikely that this can be achieved in the next three days, I will began another campaign, in addition to the current one, so that my goal of providing 113 families in India with clean water will be fulfilled!