Let's Build a Well
Tiruvanamalai | Tamil Nadu
The Narikuravar are an indigenous community from Tamil Nadu, India. They are often referred to as Gypsies, due to their historically nomadic lifestyle as hunters and gatherers. In recent years they have been prohibited to pursue their traditional lifestyle and have begun selling beaded ornaments and other trinkets in the local markets.
The Narikuravar have faced discrimination since ancient times, and are considered as 'Dalits', a low-caste community. This has led to poverty, illiteracy, illness, and limited access to social welfare. They live on the fringes of society, children often do not go to school, and they lack even the most basic of human necessities.
During the spring of 2017 I met Ragul Benjamin, a local social worker who introduced me to one such community living on the outskirts of Tiruvanamalai. This is a community of around 65 families who live in thatched huts, and share one water pump amongst them. The dribble from this singular water source is inadequate to meet the daily needs of all the people in this community and as such the Narikuravar are forced to pay money to use neighbouring wells or send a man by motorcycle to fill two jugs of water at a time for his family. The inability to bathe has resulted in children being teased at school and many of them prefer to stay at home. There are very rarely high school graduates in this community, and girls tend to stay at home or leave schooling at a young age. With temperatures soaring to 45 degrees and above in the summer months, it is inconceivable to imagine living without an ample resource of water.
I am very pleased to announce that following a fundraising campaign that lasted 8 months, Ragul and I secured the necessary funds for drilling a bore-well from donations that came in from around the world. In total we raised $5200 CAD to drill the well, build a concrete water tank, buy the electrical parts and lay the piping. Needless to say, the Narikuravar community are beyond grateful for the generosity shown towards them and Ragul and I are very thankful that we were able to keep our promise to them.