World Water Day 2021: Huma’s journey
Huma Kumari Thapa Magar is 43 years old. As a community health volunteer in her village, it’s her role to advocate good health and to keep her community safe from illness. It’s something GWT trained her to do and came to her as part of our commitment to provide fresh drinking water to remote communities across Nepal.
It is never our intention as an organisation to reach these villages, install taps and leave – the legacy we leave behind and the preparation before work begins is instrumental to them succeeding. If we don’t work to challenge social norms and behaviours then illness will prevail no matter what new water system we install. People like Huma are essential.
How a simple leg break cost her an education
As a twelve year-old girl Huma suffered an accident while playing on a local swing with friends. The fractured leg she sustained would have been dealt with promptly were it to have happened here in the UK. But health conditions such as a simple leg fracture can become insurmountable in Nepal, where there are fewer than one doctor for every 18,000 people. As a result of her leg break, she missed a whole year of school.
When she finally felt physically ready to return to school, psychologically, she couldn’t cope with it. Having missed so much she was hesitant to return and instead began a job sewing local blankets and hats (Topi’s) for sale at the market.
Family life – keeping her children healthy
At just 19 she got married and settled down in her village located in the Tanahun district. It was here she raised two sons and worked the field, producing maize, rice, wheat and potatoes. Throughout all of this, obtaining clean water for her work and her family was near impossible.
“At first, it was so hard to fetch water from the public tap stand early morning. In our village, there were only five public tap stands. It was not enough. During the monsoon, there was dirty and turbidity water, thus children used to get sick of water borne disease mainly diarrhoea. I used to get Oral Rehydration Solutions (ORS) from health post for my children. Thinking of that time, life was hard as most of the time we were behind the time due to water fetching. I was so busy with household activities, caring for my children, my animals and my farmland.”
Enter The Gurkha Welfare Trust
Having identified Huma’s community as in need of a new, clean water source our team visited the village and spoke to the locals. Huma was identified by locals and staff early on as someone who would be essential to have on-board to help – such was her well-respected reputation.
As we piped the new water access points for the village, we provided extensive health training to Huma at our headquarters in Pokhara.
“Everyone in the village called my name to participate. I was so nervous! In total it was seven days training. All of the trainers were very good. They made us comfortable and taught us about the importance of latrines, leadership, gender empowerment, how to conduct a community meeting, sustainability, disease prevention, sanitation, proper handwashing, water structure, community empowerment and water purification. I learned so many important things. Once the training was over I was determined to bring positive changes in knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practices among community members in my village.”
Huma’s ongoing role
With a new water system now installed at her village, and fresh water tapstands in every home, Huma sends us a monthly progress report on the environment hygiene, personal hygiene, school sanitation and waste management in the village.
“I have helped my villagers to adopt the healthy lifestyle. The water in our system is safe. I visit the water structure every month. We conduct meetings every month to collect the water tariff, discuss customer satisfaction and create awareness about the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene.”
A new life for the village
“I am so happy that the village which I came before is totally different now. We do not have to wait to collect the water. We can get it instantly. It has reduced the time. I can sleep more and manage household activities. Every household has one taps as well as toilet. We are so happy that we have systematic water supply system that provides us safe water. Mostly, women and children are benefitted.”
“Thank you GWT for transforming my life […] Thank you for developing my personal development skills that helped me to earn my name as well as for my livelihood. I am so thankful towards GWT. My family members are also very happy. Thank you millions.”
World Water Day 2021
On 22 March, 2021, World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the global water crisis. The theme of World Water Day 2021 is valuing water. The value of water is about much more than its price – water has enormous and complex value for our households, food, culture, health, education, economics and the integrity of our natural environment. If we overlook any of these values, we risk mismanaging this finite, irreplaceable resource.