Today I went back to one of the villages that has a problem with polluted water. I went with a video camera this time to interview people. Some of the questions I asked were more for my personal research, but most of the questions were concerning the polluted water and the petition I am helping Navsarjan draft.
It was crazy how responsive people were from the village. They even invited me back later during day to meet with the Panchayat (village level government). It was crazy how much the people did know about. Most of them did not even know what pollution was. They knew the water was bad and which corporations were making it bad, but they did know how or what that means for them and the environment. Only 10 percent of the village is literate and only 5 percent can afford safe drinking water.
The water has been causing them health problems for the last 50-60 years. Most of them have skin rashes from bathing in it, and 90 percent of the people have developed kidney stones. One guy we met had a stone that was 18mm long.
But as we explained to them about their rights and told them about past petitions that we had won successfully, we began to build up hope in these people.
They became animate about getting rid of the pollution and began asking us what we were going to do to help them. We told them that we are filing a petition, but now the pressure is on us. They do not know enough about the laws or even how to write to fill out a petition or application themselves.
I am going to do all that I can to make sure that this petition has every possible piece of evidence so that the court cannot refuse it, but the truth is once I have finished gathering evidence the final decision is up to them...And in a country that cares more about increasing GDP then about saving the environment...And that is know for its immense amount of corruption...I am nervous that I may not be able to do enough. Even if the companies are forced to discontinue their work they will probably not be forced to clean up the mess they helped make.
Giving people hope is good but also dangerous, because if you can't deliver then you may just risk the chance of loosing all the trust they have with you.
But I have become a believer in positivity, and I am going to say hope is a good thing. It is the thing that makes us strive for something more, something better.
So though I may be a little nervous about how much I hope I may have given these people, I believe in myself, and we should always end things with hope.