During my second year of college, I had this amazing professor for my International Business course. We were assigned a project where we had to research a Non-Profit Organization and teach the class about what the organization does and why people should get involved with it. I came across Wine To Water, from my professor’s suggestion. This organization was founded by Doc Hendley when he discovered the undeniable truth about the water crisis. All the research done shows us that 1/10 people lack access to clean water, 2.4 billion people lack the access to improved sanitation, and a child dies every 90 seconds from a water related illness. His goal is to change these statistics, improve lives, and give water because water is life!
Fast forward about 4 months. I decided to look into the volunteer page a little more one day. I read multiple stories about trips all of these people were taking with this organization and realized how badly I wanted to be apart of it all! So, next thing you know, I’m filling out an application to become a volunteer. Two short days later, I was accepted into the Volunteer Program with Wine to Water. The next day, I made the commitment to travel with this organization to Nepal for 10 days in December. I truly was not sure of what I should expect during this trip, but I tried to keep my mind open as much as possible.
The scariest and most exciting part about this trip was that I did not know a single person going into this trip. I was completely alone until I reached Kathmandu, Nepal. Little did I know that this trip was going to change my life.
Not only was this my first volunteer trip, but also my first trip to a country that is not as developed as the United States. I had traveled to many places before, but I would consider them to be “typical touristy countries”. Places such as Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, (you get the idea). So, this is when I discovered the truth behind Culture Shock. I had never experienced this before because I never really felt out of place or uncomfortable in another country. Stepping off the plane in Kathmandu was a completely different picture than I had expected. Now let me tell you, all that I really knew about Nepal was that mount Everest was there and it had beautiful views of the mountain range. The city is heavily polluted, trash all over, animals roaming alone everywhere, and crazy drivers! I am pretty sure there is absolutely not a single rule to driving in Nepal.
This volunteer program in Nepal started in April of 2015 after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake occurred. Due to the countries location in the Himalayas, it is one of the most seismically active regions in the world. This earthquake ended up killing thousands of people and forced millions to relocate their homes. Many landslides completely destroyed rural communities. It is not easy for these rural communities to find new areas to live due to the Nepalese Caste System. Although this system is considered to be “illegal”, it is still very much present in this country. People of certain castes cannot live in certain areas because higher caste members cannot interact with lower ones. This system forced communities to relocate to areas without any source of water. Most of the time, the closest water source would be over 3-5 miles away. In these communities, it is usually the children’s responsibility to retrieve the water daily for their families. This process could take up the majority of the day and leave the kids unable to attend school. This totally takes away any future opportunities for the children. This is why this organization is so important.
When traveling to Nepal, I knew I would be participating in hard labor in order to provide clean water to these rural communities, but I was completely unaware of what exactly I would be doing and how hard it would really be. I am not even going to try to explain the process of how to hand dig a well (you have to do it to even understand). All I can say is it is the hardest work I could ever participate in. So, if you’re looking to be physically challenged, hand dig a well! The hardest part about digging the wells is that you do not even know if you will succeed in the process. You could be digging in a spot that is too difficult to reach the water you need. Luckily, we were able to provide 8 wells in just 3 days! Finishing each well and seeing clean water come out was the best feeling every time.
The most life-changing part of this trip was getting to know all of the kids in the communities. On the first day, they were all so shy and scared to approach us. By day 2, they would run up to us and then run away. By day 3, they were showing us around the communities, bringing us in their homes, showing us traditional dances, and playing all day with us. These kids made the entire trip for me. I was able to see first-hand the lives this water would be changing. This kids are now able to go to school. The chances of them getting sick are now so much smaller. I never thought I would really change anyone’s life during my time alive. On this trip, I helped to change the lives of over 200 people. This is just a few of those people who now have a better life:
Nisant, Sumit, Sahil, Kajal, Sanjay, & Susmita,
I never knew how bad the water crisis was until I arrived in Nepal and saw it first-hand. This crisis is real and it really needs great people to help change it. Everyday, I think about how blessed I am to be able to walk into my bathroom or kitchen and turn on my faucet to get water. I only have to walk a few feet to get clean, safe water. A lot of people in this World have to walk miles and miles everyday for water that isn’t even clean. If you are interest in getting involved, reach out to me and we will talk about how you can help!
Until Next Time,