Ameeran Khatoon, a village woman standing near the newly installed hand pump with her children, raising their hands up to give credit to a donor lady residing hundreds of miles away from them, who had donated this water facility to the family. This water facility in the village Tarique Khan Khoso was arranged by Paani Organization, which is being run by Pakistani- American students voluntarily. Now the family members look happy to enjoy after having safe drinking water at their doorstep.
Though, presently people from all over the world are involved in the fund raising process for Paani. But the story of four friends studying in University of Michigan, USA is quite interesting how they managed it and provided safe drinking water to the disadvantaged people living in arid zones of Pakistan. Sikander ‘Sonny’ Khan, who is the CEO and one of the co-founder describing the tale, said it was a cold evening in November, 2017. We four Pakistani-American college friends went to a restaurant to eat burgers.
We all settled down next to the window and started a conversation about the school”. Suddenly one of the friends saw a newspaper and there was an article regarding Pakistan, in which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted the less percentage of clean drinkable water in Pakistan. “It was then when the conversation was tilted from school to the crises of water in Pakistan. That was the moment when the idea for the creation of Paani was created,” he said. Later that day the relaxed meetings turned into analytical discussions regarding the availability of clean water in the contaminated areas of Pakistan.
Some of the students began to sell donuts and that was how they raised their first budget to install a well in the rural area of Sindh, Pakistan. The other friends include Arhum Arshad, Omar Ilyas and Nauman Khan, who used to set different platforms where they would talk to people regarding the sensitive awareness of water to the people. This small budget has inspired these young water activists to build deep wells across entire Pakistan in the high risked water insensitive areas. Water caused diseases were also looked after by Paani.
Over $1 million dollars of equipment were given to different hospitals to cure the diseases which were caused by contamination of water or poor water. Soni Khan said “instead of large-scale infrequent projects, we partnered to do small-scale projects frequently. This is a level of transparency that people enjoy.” Only in Jacobabad district a large number of families in Tharparkar and Jacobabad districts have received hand pumps and now live safely, as they usually used to travel long distance twice or thrice daily to fetch water.
The organization is not only working for the welfare of the people who have water and food crises. But, at the same time it has helped many unemployed poor Pakistanis. These unemployed people are waiting for opportunities, who on a daily basis install deep and solar-powered wells. Celebrating success, Soni Khan said “If you have a good conscience and feel for the poor and needy people, you will get to your path. Selling donuts for fundraising was the inspirational journey of Paani”.