Love is ... clean water for kids in poverty

This Valentine's Day, your love, care and concern for kids in India manifests itself through the provision of safe and clean drinking water.

Like many of our precious supporters, I believe that love in action is the best example to demonstrate one's affection for someone you truly care for and are concerned about.

Take, for example, the way Children International works tirelessly to provide — through small yet significant ways — measures that improve the lives of kids, their families and the communities they live in.

In collaboration with Planet Water Foundation, one such meaningful “Valentine's gift” has been given to the students of Deoly Adarsha Vidyapith, a government-run school in Moyna, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Kolkata, India.

This map of West Bengal, India, shows the distance between Kolkata and Moyna.

Moyna lies in the Purba Mednipore district of the state of West Bengal. In 2006, the Central Government Ministry of Panchayati Raj named Purba Medinipur one of the country's 250 most backward districts (out of a total of 640). It is one of the 11 districts in West Bengal currently receiving funds from the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme (BRGF).

We have been running the sponsorship program in this rural area with one of our project partners for several years now and have faced one of the biggest challenges — providing safe and clean drinking water to the community here.

“Availability of clean drinking water in school was one of the biggest issues we faced, especially during the hot summer months and the wet rainy season,” says 15-year-old Suparna, a CI-sponsored student studying in the school. Having no clean water at school meant bringing water each day from home. But that water wasn't necessarily to be trusted either. “When we would fill our bottles from home, the water would not be completely transparent, which shows the presence of something dissolved in the water. For years we consumed this water.”

Her schoolmate, Surajit (16), shared similar problems. “When I finished my bottle of water, I would have to share with my friends their water,” he says. “Sometimes none of us would have enough water in our bottles, and we would be so thirsty on a hot summer afternoon!”

Thanks to the installation of an AquaTower on the school premises, however, there has been no greater delight to the 500 students, both sponsored and nonsponsored. They now have access to clean and safe drinking water — enough for themselves and for everyone else.

“The AquaTower has been a 'festive gift' not only for the school students but also for the community members," says Headmaster Amitesh Bera. “It is available to one and all.”

Shantanu Maity, a local resident, responds to this and adds, “We are indeed so taken up by this gesture of CI. Years ago when there was a water crisis, CI bore tube wells for us that made an impact in our lives and in our community. And now we have been given the means to get clean and safe drinking water. This is actually bringing a positive change into our lives.”

Although CI no longer provides infrastructure projects like the tube wells of which Shantanu speaks, we still work closely with partner organizations such as Planet Water to fill our sponsored population's needs. “If we identify an environmental constraint as limiting our kids, we will find partners who are experts in that area to help us address the issue head-on,” says Kathy Phelps, CI director of programs.

Seventeen-year-old Rupali says she is thankful for CI supporters, especially. “At least now we can say that the water we drink and get is safe and clean, and all this is because of CI and our wonderful sponsors who care for us and make things happen!”