Today’s society lives in a bubble. A thick, covered, soundproof bubble that prevents anything from entering or leaving. This bubble is a cozy, luxurious place where no sane person would want to escape. Filled with pleasures, completely sanitized, and free from danger, this bubble is a paradise. We are so caught up with affairs within the bubble that we fail to understand the reality that occurs on the outside. The harsh, cruel challenges of the outside is a reality we don’t want to experience, a reality that is far worse than anything we could ever imagine. Project Aqua has allowed me to step out of this bubble.
Along with my cousin, uncle, father, grandfather, and a few HOPE workers, I roamed three of Project Aqua’s very own hand pumps. Visiting three different villages in Northern Karachi, Pakistan, I was able to check the reliability, efficiency, and feedback of the hand pumps. Visiting Faiz Muhammad Goth first, my whole world turned upside down. When we first arrived from the bus, I looked out the window and saw at least 10 women, most of them young girls, using the hand pump to fill up some pots. All of them were smiling, pumping the water happily from the ground. This warmed my heart, because it showed how necessary the handpump was for the entire village. As we parked and exited the bus, all of the villagers quickly made their way to us, some of them nervous, some excited. The HOPE workers had contacted the villagers that we would be arriving and allowed them to prepare for us. All the villagers deeply observed us as we took pictures with the hand pumps, and pumped water to get an actual feel of the pump (the pump wasn’t very difficult to pull, but it definitely takes strength if needed to pump for a long duration of time). A couple of villagers gathered courage to speak to us and were thanking us for constructing the hand pump. An old woman stated in Sindhi that the hand pump allowed women to save time, as women had to walk 2-3 kilometers to reach the nearest well, while men tended to affairs within the village. Time saved was spent in taking care of children, growing more crops, and stitching custom textiles for local economy. Then, the women picked up a handful of sand, threw it in the air, and said that we are receiving more prayers than the grains of sand she threw in the air. This statement nearly brought her to tears while I let a few tears.
We navigated the villages, noticing how they had no electricity, lived in small straw huts, and barely had any contact of the outside world. They were in their own little bubble, but with miserable conditions. Many village children were following us around, paying close attention to every detail about us. We prayed in their small mosque, then began to depart. As we started to sit in the van, the village leaders came out with a scarf, called an ajrag, which was a token of appreciation for us. It symbolized heroic efforts, and they recognized us as heroes. As I sat in the van, a few tears dripped from my wet eyes. The impact we were having on these people was unimaginable. A spoiled teenage boy from a safe city in a first-world country was able to change the lives of an entire village of 80+ families. I was able to save their lives.
The story repeats as we visited the other hand pumps. In the second village, a small group of young women were pumping, immediately reacting to our van as we rolled up. Just like in the last village, we pumped the hand pump to get a feel of it, and took pictures with it. I interviewed began to interview people about the impact of the handpump. The volunteer was an educated women who knew some English. She stated (in Urdu) that the hand pump changed the lifestyle of the village forever. Children had to walk many kilometers for water as the women tended to village affairs, and men tended to crops and farming. The hand pump had saved them from being thirsty, and saved their tiresome walk in the search of water. Kindly, they offered us tea from the handpump water as a token of appreciation, and gave us each an ajrag like in the last village. We departed, and the village people cried tears of joy, as the water had saved their lives.
In the third village, we followed the same ritual: pumping the hand pumps, taking pictures, and interviewing the villagers on the impact of the handpump. This village had many children, and all of them were smiling wide smiles as we entered and spoke with them. The village leader could not stop thanking us for our efforts, and said that he would keep us in his prayers until the day he dies. My heart sank as he was speaking, because this very manly village leader seemed very emotional as his eyes started to wet. He was thankful from the bottom of his heart, and he meant it. He also gave us an ajrag as a token of appreciation, and told us to visit them again soon. I really plan on it.
The whole experience of visiting the handpumps opened my eyes in a way I never knew was possible. Through a short 4 hour trip, I was able to burst the bubble that I live in. They pure emotion of happiness and joy wanted me to burst into tears. I was so shocked to learn what these people live through. Our bubble never allows us to see these types of people, whose lives are far worse than ours. This phrase may seem overused, but these people really lack the basic necessities that we take for granted. They struggle to survive, but the handpumps help change that. With these hand pumps, the poor and needy will have that chance. The pure happiness that I experienced from these people is something that could never be experienced within our bubble. Once we escape our bubble, then we will be able to view the conditions of the world around us and do something about it. We’ll be able to save the world one drop at a time, together. We won't need a bubble anymore. Please check out the short clip I made on my trip by clicking
These pictures are from the hand pump/well that we sponsored through Project Aqua. I am very impressed by these high school students making such an amazing effort and difference. Please go to the Project Aqua page to see and learn more about their mission and the team. To show your support please "like" their page. Thank you Zain and team!!