I’m a world changer. And I bet you are too.
The United Nations’ annual World Water Day is coming up March 22, and the WWD ideas page boldly proclaims, among other things, “WATER IS CHANGE.” You can click on “See all world changers” and scroll down the page for inspirational stories of change through water from around the world.
There you have it, that’s where I got the phrase. World changer. I love it. It’s the perfect way to explain the life-changing work I’ve experienced through Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB) these last eight years. I’ve seen EWB’s work change people’s quality of life by improving their water supplies. It also changes the lives of people who volunteer for EWB.
Last fall, I applied for and received an HDR Foundation grant. My team was awarded $60,675 to implement two incredible projects in India. I had been working on projects with EWB in India since I joined the group years ago—the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami had brought attention to the importance of protecting and supporting coastal communities.
For the first project, we will be installing a reverse osmosis or ion exchange water-treatment system in Nasarpuram, a community of about 500 people near the Bay of Bengal in the state of Andhra Pradesh in south eastern India. The project aims to remove fluoride from the groundwater, which will reduce risk of contracting skeletal fluorosis, a disease that causes intense joint pain, organ failure, brittle bones and significantly shorter lifespan.
Through the second project, located near Nasarpuram in the small village community of the Scheduled Tribe Colony in Chakicherla Pedda Patapu Palem, we’re building 35 concrete houses to support the area’s 250 residents. Each home will include its own private latrine—an important sanitary measure for reducing spread of disease. The house design utilizes the roof for more living space, and includes a rainwater catchment system to harvest potable water.
For both projects, education is crucial; our EWB team will work closely with local residents to teach them about the system and make sure they can manage ongoing support and maintenance.
I’m thrilled to be a part of both projects. To me, water is how I change the world. And my involvement with EWB water projects has actually rocked my own world—I changed specialties, from a transportation engineer to a water engineer, which has taken me around the country and around the world to places I would never have dreamed of working otherwise! WATER IS CHANGE. I believe it.
How are you a World Changer? If you don’t know, I bet the UN can help you brainstorm. This is the perfect month to go for it. Happy World Water Day.
Images courtesy of Eric Scherch.