India - Part 1
Take a look at the first photo below. Pretty bad right? This is the quality of water in one of the urban slums I visited last week with WaterAid Australia & WaterAid India. It was a trip that I will never forget.
Now look at this photo below. This shows you where the water in the glass above came from. Not a tap or a water bottle - but this dirty puddle. Can you imagine?
Now to really put this issue into context … below is how water SHOULD look. Shocking right?
During my recent trip to India, I met the most amazing & inspiring people. I travelled alongside the brilliant WaterAid crews (both the Indian & the Australian) and met the locals, their gorgeous kids, teachers & very special advocates. My eyes were opened to a world beyond what should be real. The troubles they endure & the issues they face in parts of India - are very upsetting. Seeing what I saw has pushed me to work harder to campaign for more positive change to people in need, all around the world. We all need to chip in more, it's just that simple.
I've worked with WaterAid for about 5 years now and it's a relationship I hope to continue for many years to come. WaterAid is an incredible foundation. The team exists to not only improve access to clean water in remote communities, but also to allow them to have access to clean water in the first place. Running taps, toilets, plumbing - even simple education about proper sanitary. Sanitation is something WaterAid is tirelessly trying to educate the locals on. We all know to wash our hands, but if you didn't know what a tap was or what it looked like - you'd be confused too! Washing your hands seems like such a small & automatic thing to do. But what we are actually doing, is lessening our chance of sickness by reducing the amount of germs that can enter our bodies.
During my trip I visited some happy schools & amazing villages. I also visited two slums, where it became instantly obvious what real poverty looks like and more importantly, just how urgently the residents of these slums need our help & support.
The first slum I visited was pretty devastating. To tell you that clean water was scarce would be an understatement. Not only is it scarce, but access to it is infrequent. Imagine this for a second. Imagine having to wait for a truck to drive into your suburb once a week & deliver you water? You have to hurry over to meet the truck driver with your own barrel, hoping that you'll be able to fill it up high enough to last you and your loved ones the week. These are the conditions in this first slum I visited. It's not in their imagination - it's their daily reality.
Watching this process was quite alarming. When the water truck arrived (which is supplied by the heroes at WaterAid India), there is a manic rush! Everyone wants to fill up so they can survive for the week. When I say survive, I'm not joking. Drinking dirty water can lead to extreme cases of malnutrition and diarrhoea. Here in Australia, a bad tummy upset just means that you go to the GP or the chemist right? Not in this part of the world. I can't stress how different life is within these communities. Diarrhoea can become so critical, that it can lead to death.
The kids who are malnourished stick out big time. They are easy to spot because they're so skinny, their eyes are dark & their bodies are limb. While WaterAid are doing the best to help these people by supplying fresh water - they need as much help as they can get. WaterAid Australia supports them as much as they can - but please, get involved. Your support could contribute to positive and much needed change.
I'd love to tell you the name of this particular slum but it's referred to as an unrecognised slum. This means that the government hasn’t put them on a list that qualifies them for assistance. Sound sad? You couldn't believe. Imagine the anger you'd feel if you knew our government was ignoring people you loved to the extent that people were dying? It's hard to even get your head around.
Think about it this way ... 47% of deaths could be saved if they had access to clean water. Fact.
Toilets are another big factor. People deserve to have a designated, clean & hygienic area to defecate at all times. It is a simple human right that should be available to us all. No one should be forced to go to the toilet out in the open, where an entire freeway can see you. It stripes people of their pride & their dignity - especially for women around that time of the month.
Not having designated toilet areas also means that people’s living areas become contaminated. Flies land on the areas people defecate, and then those same flies land on peoples plates & their food. It’s inhumane.
As well as being inhumane, it is insanely dangerous. Going into an open field in the dark puts people at at higher risk of being attacked and abused. This issue is becoming too common and needs to change asap. WaterAid is fighting this fight but they need our support.
What’s amazing about communities I visited, is that although they’re struggling, they are full of people who are happy and grateful for the strength of their community. They are all one big family.
In some areas, the government has actually set up some apartment living for some of the people - but no one wants to leave the slum. They love each others company too much & fear leaving their friends & families. Generations & generations can be found living in the same area. It is very precious.
One of the many reasons I did this mission, was to remind Australian's how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful country. By pure luck we were born on this amazing land - and our gratitude should never ever fade.
Donations to WaterAid, no matter their size can help so so much. If you have or work for a company or a large organisation - encourage your employees to get involved in the many ways they can (click here to check it out.)
I love giving back to many charities but WaterAid holds a special place in my heart. When I travel with them, I'm able to see the change they're building with their bare hands & - and this alone keeps me donating as often as I can. Trust me when I say, your dollars will be going into some of the most deserving communities & helping some of the people in this world who need it most.
Scroll down for a close up look of the unrecognised slum. It'll blow your mind, especially when you see just how many smiling faces there are despite the poor conditions. Talk about resilience - thee kids there are like no others.
I'll post about the rest of my trip soon, so keep your eye out! Many more stories and insights to come.
Thank you for the amazing photos @prashanthvishwanathan