After a visit to the area where their domestic worker lives, the fact that the scarcity of clean and safe drinking water was the problem was clear in their mind. A group of two teen-aged girls, whose inquisitiveness to observe the society and its reality beyond their boundary of life-chances, encouraged them to create an initiative for providing pure drinking water in and around the slums of Delhi and Gurugram.
“During our visits to the slums, we realised that the underprivileged masses of the city in the slum areas do not have access to safe drinking water, which actually results in them having various water-borne diseases. Diarrhea and typhoid are the most common illnesses among them. The appalling condition of these dwellings and the unfortunate lives of their inhabitants, in a way introduced us to the reality that water, being the elixir of life, is often a scarce commodity in the lives of the less fortunate. Clean drinking water is even more scarce. The water accessible to them comes mixed with numerous chemical impurities – but the lack of alternatives leaves them with no choice but to drink this water. We wanted to change their dilapidated living standards and decided to distribute water filters in the slum areas. Therefore, the campaign ‘Elixir-Shudh Paani ki Shapat’ was born. This campaign is a pledge to provide pure drinking water to slum dwellers,” say Manya Karla and Sana Kharbana, students of Shri Ram School in Gurgaon, who started this campaign in 2016.
After their extended research, survey and planning, they decided to launch a crowd- funding initiative on Ketto.org. The funds obtained have been used to purchase non-electric water filters from Tata Chemicals. They have negotiated with Tata and it has offered them a discounted price for bulk orders and has also provided replacement bulbs for the second year. During their distribution drives, Tata also provided training to the dwellers on how to use and replace the bulb in water filters.
Initially, these teenagers chose 60 homes in Chakkarpur village as part of a pilot project. So far, they have distributed over 220 filters across the slums. Through the crowd-funding initiative at Ketto, till now they have raised more than ₹6 lakh.
“We are now keen to take this initiative further and also find partners in other cities via Elixir chapters,” Manya Karla expresses. These astounding teenagers are now planning to approach the corporate sector for raising funds and also make a short film to impart awareness in society about the hardships faced by the slum dwellers.
The structure of the city always reflects the disparity in the accessibility of basic resources. The slum dwellers, many of whom are migrants from various places, come to the city with hopes of mobility and upliftment of their lives. But the lacuna of the structural framework of the city provides them with no opportunities for moving forward, in terms of the quality of their lives.
In such circumstances, an initiative like this is always welcome as this starts the change. Such initiatives are the bold steps that can change the unequal social structure. As the quality of water also determines the quality of their lives, accessibility to safe drinking water will definitely help them have some parity with others in their lives.
You can support the campaign here.