Thursday, February 7, 2008

India - Kolar, CAWST, and South Asia Pure Water Initiative

So tomorrow we leave for Thailand after an incredible month in India. To say that India is a country of extremes is an understatement - such diversity, beauty, opportunity, need, and above all friendly people. We could go on for hours about all we've seen but suffice it to say that we all feel blessed to have had such a rich experience here (and no one has been sick).

Our last 3 days have been spent in a town called Kolar where we have been introduced to the South Asia Pure Water organization, which has been responsible for putting together an integrated program for the production and distribution of biosand water filters into the most needy villages in this area. We have been so impressed at the quality of the process and the dedication of the people involved. We have seen first hand the effect these filters are having on the health of the families using them, through stark reductions in water borne illnesses such as diarhea, worms, bacterial and parastic infections, as well as osteo issues caused by the high levels of flouride in the water. Mike Lipman and Cathy Forsberg, from Hamden Conneticut, as well as RamaChandre from the local Rotary Club, have been the driving force behind this initiative, and we commend them for the amazing work that is happening here, over 2000 filters employed in only two years ( which impacts in excess of 10,000 people). Also, CAWST in Calgary must take a bunch of credit, as it is the CAWST training program and technical materials which form the backbone of the very effective filter design. How could we leave without sponsoring another village (we have agreed to underwrite another 100 filters, in concert with our partner Springbank Middle School in Calgary)?? There is such need here, and so little can do so much for the impovisherished families who do not have options. Their very clear and present issues involve finding ways to care and provide for their loved ones day by day. Basic survival.

At the school in the village today we observed a grade 1 - 5 class of 33 kids who were crammed into a small, lightless room, sitting on the floor. They were dutifully reciting English words and numbers, dressed in identical clean(?) blue uniforms, which I'm sure are the best clothes in the village. Most of the local people barely had rags to wrap themselves in, and essentially no one wore shoes. When asked about their sports during recess, we received blank stares from the teacher who explained that the village did not have sports. No one could afford to buy a ball.

Our first stop in Bangalore tomorrow will be to a sporting goods store, where we plan to buy a cricket set and some balls which we will send back to the village with our driver after he drops us off at the airport - it may cost us $25 Canadian (1000 Rs) - so little for so much............. John

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