Here at Sahayata (Balamitra) Charitable Trust, we want to prevent non-infectious diseases that are caused by drinking water. Water is a basic necessity for all life on our planet. While most countries in the world have made progress towards delivering water this is clean and free from infectious bacteria with modern water treatment facilities, drinking water still causes non-infectious diseases. These diseases tend to be chronic and debilitating, with devastating consequences for growing children. They are caused by either environmental (endemic regions in India, Asia, Middle East, and Africa) or man-made (Flint water crisis in Michigan). Inspired by our grandfather and moved by the Flint water crisis, we want to be a catalyst for reducing the burden of non-infectious diseases that are caused by drinking unhealthy water. We believe in changing one life at a time.
We are presently tackling the issue of fluorosis that is caused by drinking water with high fluoride content in endemic regions. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are fluorosis endemic regions spread across nearly 25 countries in South and South-East Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Fluorosis causes dental caries and in vulnerable children, it could also cause severe bone deformities and hurt their growth and development into functional adults. Fluorosis afflicts 2.4 billion people worldwide and nearly half a billion growing children are at risk (per WHO).
We are currently focused on reducing the burden of fluorosis in one such endemic region, in Nalgonda county, in the state of Telangana, India. Ten tiny rural villages in the Nalgonda county are deemed to be the most at risk. With our grandfather's help, we obtained reliable data from the local government about the quality and fluoride content of all ten villages and visited families in three of those villages. We met many children, several had dental issues, and also four children from one village, Yellamagudem, who were really small for their age, had bent, deformed bones, and walked with limp. Meeting them transformed our lives, reminding us of how fortunate we are, and acted as an accelerant for our incipient cause. We have since done the research and found that the simplest way to make a difference would be to provide them with means to filter out excess fluoride from their drinking water. We have since then raised money from family and close friends, reached out to Aquagear, and brought their water filters that can filter fluoride effectively (Aquagear sold the first 7 of the 10 of the water filters for a discount). We visited the families in Yellamagudem in February of this year (just before COVID-19 pandemic hit most of the world) and provided 10 families with the water filters. The families and children were ecstatic (see gallery).
We realize the need to sustain this for those families and the dire need to help others in Yellamagudem, the other villages in Nalgonda county, India and the many, many more children at risk for severe fluorosis across the world. We are just beginning, but we will persevere, we understand this will take time and persistence, to sustain and to help more. Flint water crisis has also taught us that clean and pure water that is bereft of diseases causing bugs are not the same as healthy water. The noninfectious diseases caused by drinking water affects lives in our country and across the globe. We ask for your help so that together we can transform one life at a time, but many over time.