|A group of women sing|
and welcome us
This afternoons visit was to be a very different experience in comparison to this morning, we travelled just 20 minutes from the hotel to Arjun, upon arrival the tight streets were full of people awaiting our arrival, there were lots of smiles and we were most definitely made to feel welcome.
introduces us to the community
We were then taken to meet the families we would be spending time with in the slum. Our group of 4 was introduced (via Liddy, our interpretor and WaterAid partner who we had met this morning) to Ramvati Vishwakarma and her son Manish, they lived in a small blue metal building, amongst the 400 households in this slum. They were a family of 5 in a slum with a population of 2,000, when you consider that slums take up no more space than a half a football pitch and have a population of 2,000, it gives you an impression of how compact the area is. Imagine the houses where you live, would you fit 400 of them in to such a small space? Ramvati and Manish were exceptionally welcoming, we took a seat on the ground outside their house in the burning afternoon sun, they were full of smiles and took pleasure telling us their story.
Ramvati told how times were very hard before WaterAid came along, that a lot of money needed to be spent going to the doctors when they were ill and for medication that was not always available on the national health scheme. When her husband or Ramvati had not managed to find casual work and either they or their children had fallen ill, they had to suffer, they could not afford the medical fees, this was hard for Ramvati to watch those she loves suffer.
Ramvati told us that she could remember one day when collecting water, a 19 year old boy fell down the well where she used to get her supply, the community managed to get him out but the realisation that it could have been one of her children terrified Ramvati, she had no choice when her children were young to take them with her to the well, she could not leave them in the home alone.
|Manish shows us|
the families outside toilet
Ramvati, then gave us the following quote which summed up so much for me and will stay with me for the rest of my life:
"I dreamed of a home, I now have one
I dreamed of my family not being ill anymore,
they are now healthy
I dreamed of having water & a toilet,
I now have this
I dream my children would have an education,
they are now at university
I live in a slum but I will never stop dreaming,
that is the only way I will become more"
|Ramvati Vishwakarma wearing|
the Imagine It band
Ramvati, was clearly embracing life, I was inspired by her outlook, she was simply amazing. I said to Ramvati that she embraced an ethos that I stood by which is to Live, Love & Laugh, this is an ethos that is promoted by Imagine It an organisation I supported along with WaterAid. I gave Ramvati a blue bracelet which represented this ethos and she very quickly placed it on her arm.
We chatted some more with the family and they said that they wished to give us a blessing, we were honoured that they presented us with flowers and daleks, this time Manish painted my forehead from hairline to nose. I smiled and said that I wished them well, that I found them deeply inspiring and to never stop chasing the dream as they were right, this is the only way they come true. A young neighbouring girl said that they thought I had a sugar mouth, I laughed and asked what she meant, and she replied that the things I said were sweet. I think the rest of the group found this funny as there were a few laughs.
As we walked through the lanes people came over and chatted, we were invited in to peoples houses to see their toilets, to see how clean things were, to see how proud they were. Everyone here had benefited from the intervention of WaterAid and they wanted us to know about it. It was such a pleasure to see this.
|WaterAid wall art designed to encourage and|
educate WASH in the community
After the upsetting morning I could now see that things can change, Ramvati and the rest of the community had turned things around, the support of WaterAid and local partners was completely worthwhile and over the coming years this legacy would continue to produce rewards.
This was our last visit on this rollercoaster ride of a trip to India before we would head back to Delhi and then on to the UK. This was a very special trip that left me feeling that things will get better, I felt optimistic, I felt happy and I felt honoured.
|A quick pose with the community before my final goodbye|
I will add just 2 more blogs related to my trip to India, one to give you an account of my journey home, including a short stop in Delhi and the other to give an overall reflection on my time in this wonderfully colourful and diverse country. Please check back and take a look.
If you would like to read more about the work of WaterAid in India please follow the link below:
If you would like to donate and support the fantastic work of WaterAid please follow the link below:
A few more pictures taken at Arjun