India (MNN) — In rural India, a task as simple as gathering water is laborious and time-consuming. It can take families hours to walk to the nearest water source–and they usually do this several times a day. Even when they find water, it’s usually contaminated with trash, leaves, and feces.
Out of the 1.3 billion people in the country, 128 million lack safe water. The World Bank estimates that 21% of all communicable diseases in India are related to unsafe drinking water.
“They have experienced a lot of illnesses, and children have died because parents haven’t been able to get medical care,” says Donna Glass of India Partners, an organization that works with indigenous Christian agencies to alleviate poverty and injustice. “The water that they’ve had has continued to be dirty water, so they’re sick…. Giving them water because they’re thirsty…just compounds the problem.”
That’s why India Partners has stepped in. India Partners works with an organization that recently installed clean water wells in two rural villages in the state of Andhra Pradesh. They’re providing India with clean water, as well as Living Water.
“First, before we put a well in, we bring in a program teaching them about water sanitation and hygiene [and] what is the difference between safe and dirty water….” Glass says. “Once they have that understanding of safe hygiene practices and how to keep water safe, then we come in with the well and bring them the clean water.
“The WASH training is based on the whole creation, fall, salvation story. It’s based on the Gospel. Everything through the WASH training is based on biblical principles.” [WASH = WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene]
The wells were a serious necessity, but not everyone responded positively. Some outside of the first village where the wells were installed thought the goal was to sway the villagers’ religious beliefs.
“There were people from outside the village who came in and protested, and the villagers themselves stood up to these protesters and told them, ‘No. We want this well, we need this water. [For] fifteen years we have been waiting for clean water in our village. They are willing to bring it to us.’
“There was a concern from people outside the village that if these people are exposed to the Gospel…that if they see somebody else doing something good for them, when it came to election time, they might vote a different way because they see a different way that’s been brought to them.”
But India Partners isn’t forcing anyone into a relationship with Christ. It’s simply serving the needy out of love for God, and sharing the reason for that love along the way.
“People will say, ‘Why are you doing this? We aren’t part of your faith,’” Glass says. “And that’s when you can say, ‘Because Christ lives in us and Christ has called us to help those who need help. You need help. You need clean water.’ And that opens their hearts up to a willingness to hear more.”
Can you help India Partners meet the physical and spiritual needs of the suffering? Click here to learn more about India Partners’ Safe Water initiative and how you can provide support. Click here for a list of prayer needs.