Human kindness takes different forms.
If it were to be drinking water, that too in a chronically water starved tribal hamlet, double is the joy.
And that too from two young Canadian girls of Indian origin adds another interesting facet to the whole episode.
“When we found people in several parts of India struggling for drinking water, despite being surrounded by seas, we were virtually nonplussed. It is because we get abundant clean water in Canada and take it for granted”, begins Asha Suppiah, 22, who is studying B.Sc.
Her younger sister Roopa Suppiah, 18, who is about to enter the portals of the college, has been her enthusiastic understudy.
Their father Sam Suppiah, a chemical engineer with a Doctorate, is the Manager of the Hydrogen Isotopes Technology Branch in Canada. While he hails from Madurai District, his wife Kamala is from Mysore.
After working in England for almost nine years, he has been in Canada for the past 28 years. He is also interested in environmental activities.
With his wife Kamala he lives in Deep River, Ontario.
“We use to visit our relatives in Coimbatore, Mysore and Madurai periodically and we could see severe shortage of clean drinking water in several parts. This was a life-changing experience for us. Then we thought we should do something about it. With the help of a local friend, we identified Kondanoor Pudur, a tribal hamlet with 300 people and 55 houses, where even rigs find it difficult to go. And the tribals had to walk a couple of kilometres to fetch water. Though we conceived a project to get them water couple of years ago, it took time for us to raise the required funds.”
In Canada, the sisters have been actively involved in various environmental initiatives for almost a decade.
They have founded an organisation called Indo-Can Water-well-ness Project and have been raising funds in Canada to implement water projects for people in need of clean drinking water in remote areas of India.
They chose a very novel method for raising funds.
“After all, the place where we live has only about 100 Indians. The entire region surrounding Deep River, including a number of towns put together, has a population of just about a lakh.”
Hence, it was imperative for them to involve as many people and institutions as possible.
Apart from roping in their own school, they co-ordinated with local schools as well.
Then they organised fests in which Indian food was served to the local people and some fund was raised. During Christmas season also, similar attempt was made.
After almost a year of fund raising in Canada, the girls travelled to India couple of months ago to carry out the project.
Apart from some local friends, they got the assistance of the Mahendra Pumps which helped them install a borewell at the hamlet at a cost of Rs 1.2 lakhs. “We had to sink it to a depth of 684 ft,” they pointed out.
And the water from the borewell started flowing on August 30.
Asha says that she has developed a solar desalinator that more than doubles the efficiency and water production of a conventional system. She is confident that this advanced technology will help produce clean drinking water affordably from two natural resources.
Her invention has been submitted for patent, she says. She is also talking to various organisations to set up a test plant in India.
She has already been awarded Gold Medals at national science fairs and named one among the Canada’s Top 20 under 20 in 2007 Besides, she secured the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce‘s Young Achiever of the year in 2008 for her work.
Roopa is not the one to be left behind. She was awarded the Toyota Earth Day Canadian National Scholarship for 2009 for her environmental efforts.