Let's Build a Well

For: Gypsy Community
Tiruvannamalai, TN, India
Organizer: Yamuna Flaherty
Let's Build a Well (Gypsy Community)
of $6,000 goal.
Raised by 52 donors
75% Complete

The Story

My name is Yamuna Flaherty, and I am from Calgary, Canada. I have been traveling to India since I was a child as my mother is from Chennai, Tamil Nadu. A couple of years ago I came to the humble, holy, town of Tiruvanamalai and fell in love with its charming rural roads, devotional ambience, and of course, the holy Mount Arunachala at its centre.
It was not until the spring of 2017 that I met Ragul Benjamin, a local social worker. He spoke to me of a gypsy community that lived in deplorable conditions on the outskirts of town and asked if I would like to join him to visit. At the time, I wasn't sure that there was anything that I could do. But once I met the community and saw their settlement, I realized that as a photographer and a writer I had the tools needed to bring their story to the world. The community themselves asked us for our help and we have ensured from the start that their voices are heard. We held a council for members of the community to express their concerns, needs, and desires, and together came to the conclusion that their most urgent need is clean water.
:: Our Mission ::
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.
This is a community of around 65 families (227 people) who live in thatched huts, and share one water pump amongst them. The dribble from this one water source is inadequate to meet the cooking and bathing 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.
Although this community face many adversities that we would like to address over time, the most pressing one is their ability to access clean drinking water. With temperatures soaring to 45 degrees and above in the summer months, it is inconceivable to imagine living without an ample resource of water. 
This project seeks to drill a brand new borewell on their settlement which will provide fresh water to a community who deserve this basic human right! 
:: Cost Breakdown ::
An optimal location for drilling has already been identified and after inspection we believe there to be sufficient ground water for the future well. We intend to dig up to 1000 ft, which will cost roughtly $2180.00 CAD at today's current exchange rate.
In the event we do not reach our target, we are able to dig to lesser depths, though the longevity of the well would be less.

Next are electrical items and other things such as: PVC pipes, motor, rope, starter, etc.
We estimate the cost of this to be $2215.00 CAD at today's current exchange rate.

Finally we will need a concrete water tank, which will cost $1170.00 CAD at today's current exchange rate.

Digging the borewell, electrical items, water tank, and labour will cost an estimated - $5565.00 CAD

Every cent of your contribution will go towards the expenses outlined above.

With your generous and heartfelt contribution we are hopeful that we will be able to realize this project by the end of the summer season. Tamil Nadu has experienced the worst rain fall in 140 years and many areas are suffering from drought. Drinking water has become a challenge for urban dwellers and rural ones alike, though none face as many obstacles to access such basic necessities as low-caste communities. 

Help us take one step towards assuring the human right to water is a reality for this Narikuravar community.
:: How you can help ::
In order for us to realize this project we need donations. While I am exploring options on how to secure funding from larger organizations, the truth is, we can actually do this together! Even a $10 dollar donation will help and there is no amount too small. We understand that every person's financial capability is different and we truly appreciate every donation big or small.

Another great way to help is by sharing our campaign on your social media networks. Our Instagram hashtag is #letsbuildawell and sharing our fundraiser on Facebook with a personalized blurb is also very effective.

If you'd like to see daily updates about this project's progress please follow me on Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/yamunaflaherty/

To see photos of this project and more check out my website

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on September 30, 2017


Posted on September 30, 2017

Friends and family!

We are so humbled and grateful to announce that drilling operations have begun this morning with a prayer and we are already at 300 ft. The villagers are very excited that this dream is becoming a reality.

We appreciate your continued prayers and thoughts towards the success of this project. And as always, thank you so much for your heartfelt contributions.

In gratitude,

Yamuna and Ragul

Posted on September 28, 2017


Posted on September 28, 2017

My dear friends!

Since the launch of our campaign two months ago, we have raised $4338 dollars! That is 72% of our $6000 goal. 😊

My partner Ragul Benjamin and I are so pleased, grateful, and honoured to inform you that all legal documentation has finally been processed and WE ARE READY TO DIG!!!!

We intend to start ground operations on Saturday itself  We have $1662 left to raise to meet our goal and I made a public shout-out on Facebook to try to raise anything else we can. The more we raise, the deeper we can dig and the larger the water tank we can install.

Thank you all again so much for your prayers, shares, and heartfelt contributions. We are so thrilled that a community in need is going to receive this gift of life very soon.

Stay tuned for updates on our progress!!

Posted on September 24, 2017


Posted on September 24, 2017


Ground Water Level Check in Tiruvanamalai 😁 

Ragul and I are both pleased to inform you that we have taken our first step from fundraising to implementing our plans to dig a borewell in the Narikuravar community of Tiruvanamalai.
So far we have raised $4338 CAD towards the completion of this project, and we although we have not yet reached our goal, we are putting the wheels in motion with on-the-ground operations.
Ragul visited the gypsy settlement along with a local water diviner, who used both traditional and conventional methods to identify the exact spot we will drill. They began the process together with a prayer. In the accompanying photo you will see a man using a coconut to find the water, though later he used divining rods to reconfirm his findings. Don't ask me how this is possible, but traditional methods have proven to be correct countless times!!
Sadly, Jaina, an elderly woman whose photo I shared in the campaign is now living under a tree. Her hut washed away during the summer rains. We would love to be able to do something for her if funding allows for it.
Otherwise, Ragul reports that the community is very pleased to see our efforts in action.  Of course none of this would be possible without YOUR generous support, and once again we wish to thank you so much for your contribution, shares, and prayers. We hope to update you again soon with more good news. 

In gratitude, Yamuna and Ragul 

About the Organizer

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