The origins of The Pure Water Project are two-fold: personal experience and spiritual inspiration.
As a Tibetan refugee born in India, Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche has firsthand experience of the plight of refugees and local villagers alike in finding and retrieving potable water.
Having experienced this directly, he has been moved to reduce the suffering of the people. Having worked to implement the first five water projects in his local community, and having seen the enormous benefits this has brought, he has become even more inspired to aid others in parts of the world where water shortages are acute, that is, in wider India, and in Africa.
As a result of conceiving, leading and implementing the The Pure Water Project within his local communities in Orissa, India, the improvement of the health of the populations in the settlements has increased greatly. When His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited the Orissa Tibetan settlement in 1998, His Holiness highlighted the achievements made in the settlement. His Holiness commended Jigme Rinpoche on his efforts with a letter [hyperlink to copy of letter] of commendation from The Department of Homes (CTA).
Benefits of The Pure Water Project
Due to the most generous support of benefactors and supporters from Europe, Asia and America, five Tibetan Refugee camps plus a local Indian community over a period of seven years were able to create Governing Boards and build reservoirs, tanks and underground pipes that now reach the homes of the communities. When the most recent water project was put in place in the first Indian village outside the Tibetan Refugee camps, one of the residents, a young girl, said to Jigme Rinpoche that this was a huge gift, not an ordinary gift, but really that “this is a gift of life.” Four-thousand people now have running tap water that goes directly into their homes. Bringing pure water to people’s homes has dramatically improved the quality of people’s lives:
- The water quality has improved immensely and now water is unaffected by rainfall runoff and other contaminations.
- Since the water sources are now delivered to people’s homes they no longer need to have one family member spend the whole day going back and forth to the water well to fetch water for the family’s daily use. Thus the family member whose job it was to fetch water can now earn another livelihood, bringing financial benefit to the family. The taps have also provided enormous relief for the elderly population who do not have children to help them get water every day, and some of whom have suffered injury while trying to fetch and carry the water.
- Economically, clean and abundant tap water has allowed families to grow their own organic vegetables, saving them from having to purchase vegetables at the market.
- A significant improvement in the overall health and hygiene of the people has been reported due to the ability to maintain personal cleanliness due to convenient access to purified water. For children, this increase in personal hygiene has led to better attendance at school and the prevention of the children spreading diseases and sicknesses to each other. This regular bathing by the tap water is far superior to bathing in contaminated streams and ponds.
- With pen wells, the intense heat of the summer months often produces droughts or water scarcities, forcing people to purchase water for their daily needs. With the installation of tap water, people are no longer forced to purchase water, creating a financial savings to large families and to the elderly who often do not have a source of income. Additionally, in the past, during droughts, it was necessary to stand in line at the pen well to draw water all through the night, as villagers had to wait for the well to fill. With the installation of tap water, people can sleep through the night!
The Story of Atisha
As a Buddhist practitioner, Jigme Rinpoche has been inspired by the story of Atisha, a sage from India who traveled to Tibet in the 11th century. Atisha is known to have remarked about the pristine, pure, fresh lakes full of minerals that he encountered there, and was amazed by their beauty. According to accounts of that time, Atisha said that through offering water, one would come to understand the truth that we are all connected on a common level, and that we live interdependently.
By simply appreciating water’s excellent qualities, it could be mentally and joyfully offered. As the water was easily and honestly obtained, when offering it, one could imagine washing away the miserliness of all sentient beings. In addition, it is through the offering of water that one can aspire to purify one’s own and other’s karmas, so that wisdom and merit can grow, and so that one’s own and other’s lives can improve.