Water is just the beginning for Shrimaya

 

Water is just the beginning for Shrimaya

The wrinkles that spread across her face, crinkled with her smile. They were time-worn, wisdom-bearing, and looked like they held the answers of life within. They were beautiful. She earned these wrinkles. And not in spite of her struggle, but because of them—because of all that she has accomplished for her community, her family and herself in her 59 years.

Shrimaya Harijan has been an advocate for clean water long before Wine To Water was present in Raitole. Since she was young, she would go to the local government offices and ask, beg and plead for water. But day after day, year after year, they would not listen.

“I always felt like I had no voice like I could not speak,” she said. “But I saw people who could use their voice get all the resources—so I never gave up.”

When W|W came to Raitole, the original project design wasn’t going to reach her house because of its location on the outskirt of the village. But Shrimaya had seen her family struggle for too long, so she went to the first Water User Group Committee meeting and made sure she was heard. The committee listened and decided to extend the project to reach her house and the cluster of others on the side of the hill.

“It was like a rebellion—I fought hard to have water here,” Shrimaya said.

W|W serves as a partner to our communities in Nepal. Our role in these projects is to support local people with resources so that they can create change for themselves. This isn’t W|W’s project, this is Raitole’s project. This is Shrimaya’s project.

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“My children and grandchildren are the reason why I have a passion to create change—I am here to create a better future for them.”

Shrimaya’s passion is rooted in giving future generations the opportunity to live a life that is not in search of clean drinking water. Now that her fight for water is over, she can channel this passion into other aspects of her life. She will be able to spend her time creating more opportunities to continue bettering her family’s life through the presence of clean water.

“I can’t believe life can be this easy,” she said. “My daughters-in-law won’t have to go get water now.”

Throughout all of Nepal, women and children are usually responsible to carry the burden of water for their families. It is their sole responsibility to gather water for all of their drinking, cleaning, cooking, and livestock needs. And because of this, most do not have time to go to school or spend time earning money for themselves.

“I am not educated and my children aren’t educated… but I hope that my grandson will be.”

Water isn’t the only problem facing Raitole, but in being water resilient, there is such an opportunity for growth and empowerment in its presence.

With the presence of water, people can truly transform their lives. They can make education a priority. They can start making money to save for the future. They can hope that life will bring more opportunities for the people that come after them.

“There are so many constraints living on the edge of the jungle—but I still have so much hope for this community.”

And as her grandson crawled across her lap, eating crackers and trying to feed her some too, the hope she felt was tangible. It seemed just as present as the soft, well-deserved wrinkles that spread with her smile.

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Water is just the beginning.

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Jaleigh Jensen

Nepal International Fellow

 
WWDJaleigh Jensen