The most personally impact part of my work with Watering Minds is getting to meet the children we serve. After spending a month in India, I reflect back on what I carry forward with me the most and one school and in particular, one student stands out the most. Gurdeep – Deora High School – Khaital, Haryana State,India.
Gurdeep is a 12 year old boy, similar to most. A bit bashful, but grown up enough to have begun formulating dreams of adulthood. Gurdeep was courageous enough to share with me his story of illness and how he envisions his future.
Gurdeep is one of 258 students at the Deora HighSchool. He has not been alone in suffering drinking contaminated water. Rajvir, the principal of the school, shared a bit with us about what how the deliver of safe water to their school has changed the lives of his students.
In general, the total population of the school is benefiting. Rajvir reported to us that 90% of the symptoms of dehydration in the school have virtually disappeared. The students suffered from premature hair whitening (5th-6th graders!), stomach pains, dehydration, loss of appetite (which commonly leads to stunted growth in children which we saw evidence of at the school) and many other digestive related symptoms. Rajvir happily shared with us the proof of improved health among his students.
At the district level, there are competitions that schools are able to enter. One of the qualifications that have always kept Deora HighSchool from entering – the students health. Since Watering Minds and our local partner, Naandi, began delivering safe water to Deora High School, the health of the students have improved so significantly that they have now entered the competition. The Education Officer inquired into how they were able to make such an improvement in the health of their students so quickly. iPure water provided by Naandi and Watering Minds was the answer. The Education Officer has requested to have conversations with us based upon this success story.
Even in all of this great news, still one story keeps coming back to me.
Gurdeep. As I mentioned before, Gurdeep is 12 and a bit bashful, but with a little time he opened up. Gurdeep told me of his continued dizziness, stomach pains, and loss of appetite, which have led to continual trips to the local hospital. There they would give him what sounded much like treatment for constipation. He said the treatment would help for a few days, but then his symptoms would return. I asked Gurdeep how long had this been going on, and he shared that he didn’t remember a time when he didn’t have stomach pains.
This is the part of hearing Gurdeep that affected me the most. I can envision this little boy living (and him even younger) in a constant state of pain. I also think of his parents, working hard to provide for him and his brother, Gurcharan who also attends Deora High School. How much better all of their lives could be if so much of their income didn’t go to Gurdeep’s continued medical care, and how helpless they must feel by not being able to offer him long term relief.
But then we got to the happy part. Since we started delivering safe, clean water to his school this school year, Gurdeep has not been to the hospital once!
Gurdeep said his parents have recognized his improvement and have begun to provide a safe drinking water source at their home as well.
And this is how the change begins. Not only has Gurdeep now become strong and stable enough to attend school regularly, participate in sports and join the honored volunteer scouts, but his family has also learned the importance of safe drinking water.
Gurdeep hopes to join the Indian Air Force someday, and Rajvir has promised to help him achieve these dreams.