With the leadership, vision and blessing of Pujya Swamiji, the South Asia Pure Water Initiative (SAPWII), Friendly Water for the World (FWFW), Ganga Action Parivar (GAP) and Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA) joined together under the Project Hope umbrella as one team with one theme: to provide clean drinking water to all. They held a five day Biosand Water Filter Training at Parmarth Niketan (Rishikesh) from Jan. 23-27, 2014, as the first of many ongoing steps to make this mission a reality.
The workshop was inaugurated on the 23rd by the Hon’ble Health Minister of Uttarakhand, Shri Surender Singh Negiji who said, ‘I continue to be so amazed by the exceptional services that are made possible with the dedication, devotion and leadership of Pujya Swamiji. I truly believe that clean and safe drinking water is the very cornerstone and foundation of health. Therefore, it is a true blessing for me to support this mission to ensure clean drinking water for the state of Uttarakhand. My administration and I, in my personal capacity, will be glad to support these noble and vital efforts.’
Trainers: Dr. Micheal Lipman, Director of SAPWII (America), Ms. Shivani Kumar, Country Coordinator-SAPWII (America), Mr. Ramachandre, Managing Director-SAPWII (Kolar) as well as Dr. David Albert, Director of FWFW (America), Mr. Richard Kyambadde, Country Representative –FWFW (Uganda), Mr Wayne Medrud and his twelve year old son Noah, Technical Advisor-FWFW (America) were so enthusiastic about their beautiful start in Uttarakhand. The filter, they explained and demonstrated with a miniature model, is a simple, affordable and reliable solution, using intermittent operation with layers of sand and gravel, for clean drinking water.
On the 25th, the third day of the workshop, a formal MOU ceremony was signed between the organizations SAPWII, FWFW and GAP, GIWA to train and distribute Biosand Water Filters in the flood-recovering Himalayan state. On the occasion Hon’ble State Minister of Education and Water, Shri Mantri Prasad Naithaniji shared, ‘It is truly a testament to the dedication of Project Hope and Pujya Swamiji who has been able to connect so many people from not only all over the world but all over the nation. I also believe that clean and safe water is a fundamental right that must be available in every school of the state. Together I believe that we can provide clean and safe drinking water to over 18000 schools providing clean water to nearly 40 million children.”
Pujya Swamiji said on the occasion that, ‘We must not only worship the creator but also His creation, thereby service of humanity and the environment can also become our worship in action. Time has come that we collectively move from temples to toilets, taps and trees. The need of the hour and the true pooja (worship) is to work to provide adequate facilities for sanitation, clean water, and raise awareness about health and hygiene so that we ensure healthier and happier lives for all. I am so proud of the dedication and the commitment of this whole team to this divine and vital cause.”
On the last day of the training and during the certification ceremony Mr. Mike Lipman, Director of SAPWII along with Ms. Shivani Kumar, Country Representative and all trainers deeply thanked the warm hospitality and endorsement of Pujya Swamiji for this crucial work. They promised that they have left strong local and trained representatives to take the work forward but hope to return soon to take the project forward.
Shri Puthamai A. Nazarene, Team Leader United Nations Disaster Management Team (UNDMT) joined for the Certification Ceremony on the 27th and together with Pujya Swamiji gave each of the participants their certificates of completion. Trained volunteers represented organizations such as Rotary, THDC, Art Of Living, SEEDS, Reliance Foundation, Indian Society of Agribusiness Professionals, Himalayan Institute and Hospital Trust, Anupam Mahila Chetna Samiti, Wells for India, Umeed, Society For Inclusive Development (SFID) and others, including participants from countries of America, Brazil, Canada, Europe and the Indian states of Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Punjab, UP, West Bengal amongst many others. The volunteers created 10 filters from their training and have dedicated them to Project Hope and the state of Uttarakhand and plan to apply the training in their local communities.
Shri Puthamai who coordinates and leads the work between governments and NGOs in the wake of the recent devastating floods in Uttarakhand was very impressed and deeply touched by the beautiful work that had been undertaken by Project Hope and commended the global and interfaith applicability of the services that were being offered with the vision and blessings of Pujya Swamiji.
Following the completion of the workshop the first finished filter was installed in nearby school Kali Ki Dhal-Rishikesh on the morning of the 28th. The school and local community suffer from waterborne illnesses and skin diseases due to lack of clean water resources. Project Hope volunteers determined that the first filter would be installed on the school campus. After installation trainer shared with all the students the vital need and importance for maintaining clean water, sanitation and hygiene practices. Plans were further made amongst the organizations to work closely with the administration to make this simple technology, which uses naturally occurring and abundant resources already present in the Himalayan state, available in every school, hospital and village, while also sustain, diversify and revive the livelihoods of the locals.
The trainers will have another set of trainings from the 3-7th February in Bangalore but will leave behind a beautiful seed of possibilities and opportunities for the Himalayan state which is eager and ready to take this mission forward ensuring clean water for all.