Water is just the beginning for Krishna

Water is just the beginning for Krishna

 

She heard us coming a few houses away and ran to meet us. With her scarf flying behind her and a smile that covered her entire face, she immediately started sharing stories about her vegetables growing out of control. Beaming with pride as we approached her garden, she picked lush green peas for us to eat. They burst with flavor as we bit down. It’s like this all over the village now.

It seemed like the whole community had gathered in Krishna Kumari Rai’s garden that afternoon. Everyone busied themselves making sure there were chairs to sit, roti (flat-bread) to eat and chia (tea) to drink. Some were chasing chickens, others chasing children, but everyone was enjoying time together after a long day of work. We ate and drank, warmed by our company and the last rays of sun in Krishna’s garden.

Everything changed when she started speaking. The air cooled, the people stilled. She captured everyone’s attention, we all turned to listen. We could hear the melody her words created, the passion that poured from her as she spoke. It was evident how respected she was and how deeply she cared for her people. And this wasn’t anything new, she had always been this way-- this captivating, this passionate. We just got to experience it for the first time that afternoon.

“There was always a drive within me—since I was a child—to do something bigger—and this project gave me that opportunity,” Krishna said.

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Krishna Rai was chosen to be the secretary of the Water User Committee during our first phase, and now she is the secretary of the Farmers User Committee in this livelihood phase. She said they chose her because they knew she could balance doing it all—being a mother, a wife, and a leader—but Roshani said they chose her because they knew she could use her drive to truly transform this community.

And they weren’t wrong, Krishna is spearheading the growth for her community through the presence of clean water. Her energy and excitement for her tunnel farm has encouraged so many other villagers to continue growing their plants too.  

“I had grown vegetables before but with the training, I’ve learned so many more technical things in agriculture.” Krishna said as she waved her arms in front of her, gesturing towards her garden. “The urine fertilizer changed my life—just look at the growth of my garden!”

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Urine fertilization was another livelihood generation initiative that was put in place by Roshani. In separating the two kinds of waste in an Eco-San toilet, urine can be captured and then diluted to create a fertilizer that works well on crops of all kinds.  

“I am so excited about this opportunity—I want to fill my whole garden with tunnels and plants,” Krishna said.

Krishna said that because every Nepali dish needs tomatoes, she can grow tomatoes year-round and make a business here. Crop-diversification and growing out-of-season crops will allow all farmers in Raitole the opportunity to be competitive at the bigger market and earn money from their work.

She turned back to look at her plants. “I can literally see the growth of my work here.”

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Krishna’s husband lives in India, as most young Nepali men do, in hopes to find a better job that will allow him to provide for his family. And because this is so common in Nepali culture, remittance accounts for nearly one-third of Nepal’s GDP.  Likewise, the overwhelming majority of the people left in Nepal are women. This gives the opportunity for women like Krishna to step into leadership roles that weren’t previously available for her.

In our male-dominated society—men get leadership roles. But why not their wives—why not us?” Krishna said.

This project is not only empowering to communities as a whole, but also to the marginalized within. By hiring women from all castes, water is proving to be powerful enough to reshape the social hierarchies.

Because in allowing space for community members to engage and relate to each other with a common goal, there has been a shift. Not because this is something W|W has implemented, but because the community is starting to understand that this is something they want to change.

Even though Raitole is made up of mostly Rais, it is still a mixed caste community. Before this project, Krishna said that the village was very polarized, each caste staying mostly to themselves. Through this project, they have all bonded together to bring water to their community.

“Now, we are not talking about the Rais, the Botes, or the Sarkis—we are talking about the entire community,” Krishna said.

And in the way her neighbors helped Krishna clean up our cups and plates and bring the borrowed chairs back to their own houses, it was evident that her words rang true. This isn’t a community separated by the caste anymore—this is the whole and healthy community of Raitole.

The presence of water has given much more than access to the people of Raitole-- it’s given true opportunity for the growth and empowerment that will continue to flow.

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Water is just the beginning.
At this point, we want to encourage you to join The Tap. The Tap is an incredible group of monthly givers that help bring clean water to so many communities like Raitole and to people like Krishna all around the world. To partner with us monthly, click here.

By joining the Tap, you will continue empowering women and people from all castes to grow and become leaders in their communities. You will continue bringing agriculture education so that people can grow a market from crop-diversification. You will continue to be a part of amazing stories like Krishna’s and so many others around the world.  

Jaleigh Jensen

Nepal International Fellow

 
WWDJaleigh Jensen