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Providing a well to an Indian Village: a present for our grandson

The Kamla Foundation is a small Uk charity offering practical help to the poorest families in India. For a relatively modest sum, and to celebrate our grandson's good fortune in being brought up in the relative wealth of the UK, they've provided a village with a well

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Providing a well to an Indian Village: a present for our grandson

  1. 1. The UKis in something of a turmoil right now as we contemplateleaving the European Community. Thepapers are full of what thismight mean for savings, for mortgagesand for house prices. But it is worth remembering that worrying as these thingsmight be, relative to much of the rest of theworld, nearly all of us in theUK will continue to live lives ofrelative affluence. It is a remarkable fact that ifany ofus have some loose changeat home, some surplus coins in a saucer, or on a bedside table,money for which thereis no particularpurpose, we are among the8% most affluent peopleon our planet. 92% of peopleon earth have no such surplus coins. Every penny theyhaveis needed and used for life’s essentials. The inequalityof theworld we live in is particularlyvivid in India, a country my wife and I have visited many times and which we love for its colour, astonishing city bustle, beautiful beaches, sensational foodand kind and welcoming people.But, particularlyaway from thebeaches and thecities, it is a country of immense and grinding poverty where millions of peoplestrugglefor the very basics of life. That is why, earlier thisyear, we decided that to celebratethebirth of our first grandchild,Ezra, we would not buy him thetraditionalChristening mug or opena Trust Fund. Instead, we’ddo something to remind himas he grows up, of his own goodfortune in being born here in theUK. And therelativemisfortune of so many otherbabiesborn in poorerparts of theworld. In theSivagangaidistrict of thestateof Tamil Nadu in India, lies a small hamlet called Pillathienhal.ThepopulationofPillathienhalisjust under 2,000, mostly working in agriculture, the peoplewho live there are – as described by theIndian Government, not byme or theKamla Foundation– are members of theMost Backward Class. The villagehas one overheadwater tank, but it functions poorlyand irregularly. As a consequence thevillagers use opentank water from an adjacent village,two kilometres away. That water is polluted and sometimes promptsepidemics including scabies and dysentry. Children are particularlyhit.During thesummer, the water crisis is severe. In a few weeks a bore well willbe sunk in Pillathienhalasa celebrationof Ezra’s birth.He may never see it. But who knows? What is certain is that it will bea reminder to my grandson, as it is to hisparents and to my wife and I of our own goodfortune. In truth,it has cost me very little:taking account of gift aid, about £1100. That’sless than thecost of a modest holiday.Mygrandson won’t miss his Christening mug or his Trust Fund, while thechildrenof Pillathienhalcanexpect to suffer less from dysentry. Fewer of themwill dieearly.