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|Photos: Water, Wells, and One Wonderful Woman Meet One Wonderful Woman Who Fixes Wells and Inspired a Village|
Ram Rati is a 40-year-old female mechanic in India. If you think that sounds impressive, it is, but that's not the half of it. Rati was married off at 11 years old and escaped at 13. She spent the next 15 years grinding wheat for a living. An admirable story of perseverance all too common in her native India, but the real achievement comes next.
Rati is now a hero in her village, in part because she's now using her mechanic's know-how to fix broken wells and increase the availability of clean water. She has also become and advocate for other women in her conservative region of rural northern India, encouraging them to remove their veils, send their girls to school and, for some of them, to become mechanics, too. (Pics of a few of them later in the slideshow)
With her income from fixing wells, Rati purchased an irrigation system and 15 acres of land where she grows peas and wheat. She now employs two women for the village. The ripples of impact spread out in many directions from Rati.
This all comes to us through the Adventure Project. Every quarter, the young nonprofit picks a different issue and then raises funds for one quality NGO working toward a solution in that area. Last quarter it was charcoal-efficient stoves. Their current issue is
sanitation clean water, with a "Keep it Clean" campaign they just launched. Adventure Project is partnering with WaterAid. That's where we meet Ram Rati.
Back when Rati was pounding wheat for a living, she grew tired of broken wells—one-third of wells she lives don't work. WaterAid had just started a well mechanics program to train up micro-entrepreneurs to fix wells and earn an income in the process. Rati was one of the first women to apply. Now, when a well breaks, she gets a call, straps her tools to her bike, and pedals on over.
So far, Rati and the WaterAid team have repaired 300 wells in the last two years. Now, the Adventure Project wants to help them expand the program to other regions by sharing Rati's amazing story—and the amazing photos in the rest of this slideshow.
People can help by in two ways: donating directly or buying a symbolic bar of soap on sale for $20 via the website. There are still more than 4,000 broken wells in the Indian district of Mahoba. Let's help train more Ram Rati's to increase access to clean water through micro-enterprise.
Above: Ram Rati beams with excitement and confidence. “Now, where ever I go I get respect. Surrounding villages, whichever handpumps fail, they call me.”
Two years ago, WaterAid set up a social enterprise to address the high rate of broken handpumps. They set up a storefront, purchased tools and spare parts, and trained men and women to become handpump mechanics.
Ram Rati is a one women revolution in Mahoba District, Northern India. When she became tired of seeing so many broken wells in her village, she decided to learn how to fix them herself.
Whenever a handpump breaks down, a village calls the local repair shop. The mechanics are able to strap parts to the back of their bikes and pedal over, often fixing wells in less than 24 hours.
Clean and safe drinking water is a precious resource in water-stressed regions; 4,000 children die every day from lack of clean water.
Two women stand next to their broken well. One-third of all handpumps installed within the last 20 years are now broken.
In developing countries, women are twice as likely as men to collect drinking water.
In addition to handpump repair, WaterAid has also set up a storefront water-quality testing facility—to ensure every well they fix is safe for consumption. Villages can also bring their own water samples here for testing.
Ram Rati walks her bike passed a group of men. She has become a role model to young girls throughout the village, and usually has a group of girls following her every move.
Rakesh Kumeri Saxena is proud to be one of the first female mechanics. At first, her husband forbid her from joining the program. But after she started earning enough money to help him open a small shop, “he doesn’t object anymore,” she declared with a grin.
Rakesh can also now afford to send her daughter, Sahvani, to school. Sahvani says her dream is to become a lawyer.
A young girl collects water for her family.
Early in the morning, a man fills up his canteen before heading to work.