Well Rehabilitation Program Brings Clean Water and Escape From Arranged Marriages in Rural India

ram rati water india photo

Photo: Esther Havens

Ram Rati has been overcoming obstacles since she was a child. Married off at age 11, she escaped and made ends meet grinding wheat. But today Rati is a hero in her community. She was tired of the wells in her village breaking down so she decided to fix them herself. Now she's a trained well mechanic, bringing her Northern India village fresh water and offering hope to struggling women.It's a win-win for Rati, who uses the extra income to invest in her wheat grinding shop and pay two women laborers to farm her 15 acres of land. At 40 years of age, Rati wants the girls in her community to go to school so that they can do even better than she has.

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girls in village water charity photo

Photo: Esther Havens

Rati's rural community first criticized her for doing a job that women weren't initially considered capable of, but today she's garnered respect from her peers in a country where broken fresh water wells are a real and growing issue. In the Indian district of Mahoba, 4,000 drinking water wells are broken. That's one third of the hand pumps installed in the last 20 years.

handpump wells water india photo

Photo: Esther Havens

The non-profit organization WaterAid has developed a thoughtful solution to the broken well problem by training micro-entrepreneurs to establish well maintenance businesses. These trained mechanics are showing results, having already fixed 300 hand pumps in 2 years, bringing water to 30,000 people. WaterAid hopes to increase well repairs by 50 percent, bringing clean water to 700 more people every month. The program has a two-fold benefit by providing employment and bringing clean water to those that need it most.

The organization also runs women's groups that discuss empowerment, the importance of education, and women's rights.

fixing pump india water photo

Photo: Esther Havens
The Adventure Project, a New York non-profit that focuses on one issue per quarter is working on the "Keep It Clean Campaign" to raise money for the program. Make a donation to the program or buy a $20 bar of organic, handmade soap with all the proceeds going to the program.

boy by handpump photo

Photo: Esther Havens
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