Shiuli Mondol is a homemaker from Joynogor, a small village in Tetulia Union under Bagerhat district. Shiuli is the primary caregiver for her family of five people. A shy but energetic woman in her mid-twenties, Shiuli’s eyes lit up with joy when she started talking about her children. Her daughter is six, attending first grade in the local primary school, and her son is only 17 months old. She spends her day in cooking, cleaning, and taking care of her elderly mother-in-law and young son.
Like most village households, Shiuli’s home does not have running water. Usually, it is the rural women who are tasked with the job of fetching water for daily chores. For as long as she can remember, Shiuli has collected water for her homes, both parental and marital ones. There was a time when she collected water from local ponds. Sometimes she could see dirt floating in the water, but she had no other option but to boil the same water before drinking or using it to cook. Countless women in the region faced the same challenges and risks every single day.
The solar powered drinking water pump established in Tetulia union eliminated this everyday crisis from her life. The pump is only five minutes walking distance from her home. Every morning Shiuli arrives at the pump site with her water pot or Kolshi and fills it with fresh water. As local women stand on a cue to await their turn, they catch up on news from each other’s lives.
The community, along with most of Shiuli’s neighbours have welcomed the new set up. Each household deposits a monthly sum, used for the maintenance of the pump site in exchange for collecting water. Shiuli asserts that this is a small price to pay to ensure her family’s health and wellbeing. According to her mother-in-law, since they started cooking with this water, the taste of food has improved. The water from this particular pump has been given a brand name, Mitha Pani, or sweet water. When asked if indeed the water tasted sweet to her, instead of the typical ground water found in the coastal region, Shiuli nodded, and a smile appeared on her face.