Mahoba, India

Mahoba, Northern India, is an area where girls rarely go to school and women don’t often speak in public. Ram Rati, barely five feet tall, shocks most people simply by gallantly riding her bike into villages. And then she opens her toolbox and fixes their well.

Many wells fail because there aren’t enough people trained to maintain them. However, Ram Rati is one of six local women in a team that has fixed over 300 wells so far.

Ram Rati’s services, including repairs to handpumps and submersible pumps, are in great demand across the Mahoba district. She has even used her own knowledge to train other women mechanics from nearby villages.

Photo: Esther Havens for The Adventure Project

There has been a positive change in Ram Rati’s life since she received training from WaterAid and its local partners, funded by The Adventure Project. Previously, she was confined to the four walls of her house. Now she goes out to work, and people recognise her in neighbouring villages and ask for her help.

Her work as a mechanic has also helped to improve the standing of women in the region. “At first I thought, how can she do it?” said one of the men in the community, “But even a man can’t do the job as well as she does.”

Ram Rati’s friend Sheila, who is also a mechanic, added “When I first learned to cycle people were laughing, saying, ‘Today you are learning to cycle, will you be driving a plane tomorrow?’"

Ram Rati chuckled, “Now they say, handpump mechanic, please come. We are waiting for repairs, please come!”

Read more stories of remarkable women who have inspired change in their communities >

Find out more about our work in India >