A short walk away from the Udaan school in Mewat that receives support from Join My Village, I walked down narrow dusty streets leading toward a student named Husna’s house. Her mother Mubina and a neighbour greeted me, and the Udaan teachers accompanying me, with a big warm smile.
When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water.
– Benjamin Franklin
The house, comprising of two small rooms, a toilet and a courtyard, is situated at one corner of a small pond that serves as the primary water resource for this village. In addition to this, a water tanker comes on a regular basis from where the villagers can buy more water for their everyday needs.
Upon entering Mubina’s house I found the area allocated for washing clothes and utensils in the courtyard. Here I found a small hole in the ground that’s kept covered with a lid where they store the water that they buy. In a rural area like Mewat where employment is limited and earnings are meagre, spending $8 on buying water is a luxury that most cannot afford.
We went outside the house and walked around the pond climbing a few steep steps to get up on the platform where the village women had come to wash their clothes. I found a deep well in the middle of this raised platform, from where the women take out water using a rope attached to a bucket. This isn’t a task for the faint hearted or those suffering from vertigo I realize; and yet all these women sit very comfortably right at the edge of this gaping hole going about their daily chore of washing.
This pond is a source for washing clothes and utensils for the women; and for the men to bring their buffaloes to drink water as well. One of the village women named Parveen tells me that this is their only water source and they have to use it even if it is unclean. She says, “Without water, there is nothing. We cannot wash utensils or clothes or do anything else, so we have to come here.”
These women walk nearly a kilometer because they have no other source of water nearby. The women tell me “What we need is a water line. There should be a tap in each house!”
Mubina has lived her whole life in this village. She tells me that the water table of the pond has gone down over the decades and now gets filled entirely only when it rains. She says, “Earlier there used to be taps in the village but since Nuh block (location of this village) was made, the government removed the taps. Now the only options we have are this pond and the water tanker that comes; because of which most of us end up stocking the water from the tanker for nearly 4-5 months using it very economically.”
Mubina considers herself lucky amongst the women gathered at the pond because her daughter studies at Udaan, where the children do not face any shortage of water and at any given time have access to clean water for all purposes.
She tells me she feels grateful to Join My Village because along with supporting her daughter’s education, Join My Village is also providing her daughter with access to clean water, an essential need. Furthermore, having one person less to provide water for in her family, lessens her burden.