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Bore Well + Hand Pump ~ Jeeva Nagar, India


When WaterBridge Outreach, together with Curt Degler of Save Int'l, visited a small Irular enclave in Kazhanipakkam, Tamil Nadu, Southeast India, we were gripped by the extreme poverty and hardship of these people, but we were also deeply moved by their struggle to do what they can to improve their own situation – and to do it with a smile! To say that these people are poor hardly expresses the harsh situation in which they live. It was Curt who, on a previous visit had introduced me to these people, known in India as “tribals” since they are in many ways outside of the Indian caste system. In partnership with SI, WBO established a borewell with hand pump for this Irular enclave. Click here to see photos and learn more about that project.


Since the enclave flooded each year, the people had to leave their waterlogged huts until the flood water subsided. WBO therefore provided the seed money in 2012 for an elevated concrete house in the enclave – raised above the regular flood levels - a house-building program that Curt Degler has been able to carry much further. Thanks to this, these villagers now have protection when the annual floods arrive. 


Thanks to a generous grant from the Sonoma Women's Giving Circle, WBO worked with Save Int'l  to install a 150 ft well with hand pump in a rapidly expanding Irular enclave some distance from Kazhanipakkam. This is known as the Jeeva Nagar enclave. This enclave is on the outskirts of Panjanterutee village, where WBO had previously done work with SI on the repair of a well. Jeeva Nagar is expanding because the majority of newcomers are victims of what is known as “the illegal bonded labor segment” – the bonded laborers in this “labor segment” are perhaps best described as modern-day slaves. These particular bonded laborers were released by Government agents. There was, however, a problem: these Irular people had nowhere to go. It took time and effort but, eventually, the Irular were allotted village land in Jeeva Nagar that was not already registered. 


Curt Degler described this desperate situation to us: “There are now over 40 huts, over 100 people, with more coming in every month. In any case they are without a proper 24-7 water source for bathing and washing and consumption, getting intermittent village water for ½ an hour on some days only.” 


We therefore decided to work with SI to see what could be done. Once it was ascertained that a well could be successfully drilled to obtain potable water without too many contaminants, WBO decided to seek funds to enable the work to go ahead: thanks to the Sonoma Women’s Giving Circle these funds have been found! The photos accompanying this text show the work being done and the people involved in the project.


There is a further important reason for being able to obtain water in this area. Hands on Houses, a South African/Californian NGO, is currently working with SI to build houses here similar to those mentioned above in Kazhanipakkam. Water is crucial because it is required for the cement and masonry work.


One of the very attractive features of this project is that is shows what collaborative effort among different nonprofit organizations can do in the service of those in need: in this case a collaboration among four nonprofits: Save International, the Sonoma Womens’ Giving Circle, WaterBridge Outreach, and Hands on Houses.       

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