"Before, the wait for water used to begin in the dark at 4 a.m."
Samrun, a 35-year-old mother of two, has spent nearly all her life without water nearby her home. She and the other members of her community in West Bengal would walk 500 meters – about 6 city blocks – to fetch water. She often started early in the morning when it was still dark out. During the monsoon, Samrun had to walk through flooded paths to get to the water point.
"By the time I reach the handpump, a dozen women are already in line. And as the sun rises, so, too, does the heat."
At the handpump, the challenges continued. Waiting in the heat was prolonged due to the unreliable flow of water. In the summer, the handpump could run dry. At other times, the availability was erratic and additional time was required in between every vessel filled as the water replenished. The water quality was poor.
"I used to feel lucky if I reached home by early afternoon. But whatever lengths we had to go to get water, we did it. There was no other way."
Fortunately, all of this changed.
Members of Water For People India and the local government approached the community, holding meetings to share about the collaborative process of installing a water point. A Water User Committee comprised of fellow community members was formed to look after the handpump after the water point was installed. Now, all families, including Samrun’s, pay 5 rupees a month (approximately $.06) for the ongoing operation and maintenance of the hardware. For the 100 people in the community, safe, reliable water is finally available nearby.
"Water is an essential element of life. If there is no water, there would be no life on earth."
Samrun truly values water – and values the impact the new handpump has on her community. She no longer carefully rations the water used for cooking, cleaning, drinking, and bathing. She sees the health of those around her improving, with her family and neighbors falling ill less often. She looks forward to spending quality time with her family, time saved by not walking and waiting for water. Her children, aged 15 and 11, can regularly attend school.
"I feel less tired now, more relaxed, and happier. This water is so clean and tastes good when you drink it."
For Samrun, the wait is finally over.