Although India is the tenth largest economy by nominal GDP and the most populous democracy, it is also home to some of the worst poverty stricken slums in the world; full of illiteracy, inadequate public health and corruption. The combination of India’s ever growing population, poor management and unclear laws makes the water crisis a predominantly manmade problem. Between human waste and industrial pollution, nearly all available water is rendered useless. Because the nature of India’s water problems is not due to an intensely dry climate or a lack of groundwater, there is indeed hope.
On a particularly fateful trip to India in 2006, Paul Wilkes, co-founder of Home of Hope, met a young orphan girl by the name of Reena at an orphanage run by the Salesian sisters. After being separated from her mother, Reena was kidnapped by the “beggar mafia”. In an attempt to generate more money from her, a darning needle was plunged into one of her eyes—leaving it brutally scarred and blind. Despite this, Reena looked up at Paul with a radiant, trusting smile. Her story is one of millions of children who suffer unimaginable hardship, and upon returning to the United States, Paul began not only telling it to anyone who would listen but also asking for help. A call that Waterhope was eager to answer.
Home of hope India strives to create safe and loving homes, as well as the opportunity for education, for the precious girls like Reena in the 32 Salesian orphanages and schools across Southern India. In partnership with them, Waterhope seeks to provide them with potable, accessible water and continues to be the premier funder for Home of Hope water projects. Since 2007 Waterhope has provided a solar-powered water purifier, one rooftop water harvesting system, four bore well installations and purification systems, three repairs of existing wells and one de-fluoridation system. The three South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka and Andra Pradesh are now considered the HopeZone. It is here that thousands of marginalized, abused and abandoned young women come to be cared for. With clean water to drink and a mattress to sleep on, the girls of Prathyasha Bhavan are given a reason to hope that may not have existed before.