Laxmi lives in a very remote region of the Thar desert. She is a member of the meghwal community. The meghwals are part of the scheduled caste category – one of the low, untouchable castes.
Laxmi and her family are very poor. All eight family members live in a small (around 50 sq ft) kaccha (mud) house. They have a few cattle which give them some milk to drink and a small amount of land. The land gives some crops to eat but not enough to sell. The only way to earn money is to do daily wage labour.
Laxmi has never been to school – she cannot read or write. Being of low caste and uneducated, she is unable to raise any issues with the village council (or gram panchayat). She is categorized by the government as ‘Below the Poverty Line’ but this categorization doesn’t bring any benefits.
There is no source of water near where she lives so she has to buy water from a tank brought in by a tractor. In the summer, when the heat is over 40 degrees, she needs to buy water every 17 or 18 days. She is often not given all the water she pays for.
Through one of our projects, Laxmi was selected to get a rainwater harvesting tank. This is now built and she recently attended a training session on how to maintain the tank. Despite her lack of education, Laxmi asked many questions during the training session on diseases from water and how to clean her rainwater harvesting tank. She is looking forward to the arrival of the monsoon and a time when the tank will be full. For now, she is able to use her tank as a storage tank – meaning she has to buy water less frequently and is able to get a better price.
In her words “It is lifeline for her family” and as the project coordinator reported back to us “Small steps taken by women like Laxmi can seed a tree”. Women, like Laxmi, seize every opportunity to improve their lives and the lives of their families. Laxmi and her family will now have clean drinking water at home all year round for the next twenty five years.