Elyse Knowles visits Delhi slums
Australian model Elyse Knowles is used to flying to exotic locations for photoshoots, but this week went traveling abroad for a different reason.
The Melbourne-based TV personality and author of “From Me to You” was in Delhi, India visiting two urban slums and a government primary school.
Elyse has been working with us for the past 5 years supporting our cause to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation.
WaterAid’s country program in India works with each of the communities Knowles visited, helping them each improve their access to these basic services.
Of the two slums she visited, the first one (Jai Hind Camp) had limited access to clean water and toilets, whereas the second one (in Kirti Nagar) had more sustainable systems and improved toilet facilities.
She recounts her eye-opening experience in her blog when she visited the first slum:
“The first slum I visited was pretty devastating. To tell you that clean water was scarce would be an understatement. Not only is it scarce, but access to it is infrequent. Imagine this for a second. Imagine having to wait for a truck to drive into your suburb once a week & deliver you water? You have to hurry over to meet the truck driver with your own barrel, hoping that you'll be able to fill it up high enough to last you and your loved ones the week. These are the conditions in this first slum I visited. It's not in their imagination - it's their daily reality.”
Elyse was able to experience the WaterAid India truck with a few days’ water provisions for the residents. She could observe first-handily the joy that water can bring to a community.
“While I was there, a water truck arrived to deliver the slum with water. When it came in, everyone got so excited. They all had their barrels that they wanted to fill up. For those people, you’ve got to get in there, you’ve got to get your barrel so that you’ve got water for the next couple of days. At home, we turn on the tap and there’s clean water that’s clear - we just put in the glass. So it was really special to see the effects of what clean water can do – when that truck came in, everyone was so happy and it showed me how water can change lives.”
A decent toilet is something everyone should take for granted – at home, school, work and in public places. It’s a human right that protects people from dangerous diseases and provides dignity. Unfortunately, this particular slum doesn’t have access to these basic facilities.
Toilets are another big factor. People deserve to have a designated, clean & hygienic area to defecate at all times. It is a simple human right that should be available to us all. No one should be forced to go to the toilet out in the open, where an entire freeway can see you. It stripes people of their pride & their dignity - especially for women around that time of the month.
“Not having designated toilet areas also means that people’s living areas become contaminated. Flies land on the areas people defecate, and then those same flies land on people’s plates & their food. It’s inhumane.
As well as being inhumane, it is insanely dangerous. Going into an open field in the dark puts people at higher risk of being attacked and abused. This issue is becoming too common and needs to change ASAP. WaterAid is fighting this fight but they need our support.”
Knowles is the ambassador of WaterAid’s Water Challenge fundraising event, which invites Australians to make water their only beverage during the month of March. Pre-register for the event at www.waterchallenge.org.au
If you want to read more about her trip to India please visit her blog.