From Prior Lake, fresh water and hope for a village in India

  • Article by: ERIN AD­LER  , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 6, 2014 - 3:34 PM

A high school student raised $3,000 for a well that gives residents access to clean water.

Hannah Enck, a sophomore at Prior Lake High School, worked at a strawberry farm to earn money to dig a well in India.

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“I fi­nal­ly re­al­ized that if I give away some of my mon­ey, I’ll still have en­ough left for my­self,” she said.

Han­nah was sud­den­ly “re­al­ly in­spired” to give back, and she knew what she want­ed to do: do­nate mon­ey to a Minnesota nonprofit called Hands of Freedom that builds wells for the poor in India so they can ac­cess clean wa­ter.

Last fall, Han­nah, now a sopho­more at Pri­or Lake High School, hand­ed over $3,000 — the cost of dig­ging one well — to Hands of Freedom. Re­cent­ly, she re­ceived con­firma­tion, along with a photo, that the well had been com­pleted in a state in west­ern India.

The pro­ject taught her “how easy it is to get in­volved with some­thing and make a dif­fer­ence in peo­ple’s lives,” she said.

Brian Numainville, di­rec­tor of Hands of Freedom, said that while in­di­vidu­als of­ten raise mon­ey for spe­cif­ic pro­jects, Han­nah is prob­a­bly the young­est per­son with whom they have worked.

About a year ago at a fundraising e­vent, she was of­fered the chance to have a phi­lan­thro­pist match her do­na­tion so she would have to raise only half the mon­ey. Han­nah chose in­stead to earn it all her­self, he said.

“We’ve nev­er worked with some­one quite like Han­nah,” Numainville said. “She’s a re­mark­able per­son, and I think she’s re­al­ly going places with that kind of mo­ti­va­tion.”

Wells have big im­pact

Han­nah al­read­y knew about how im­port­ant a well can be to a vil­lage be­cause of the in­flu­ence of fam­i­ly friends — the cou­ple who start­ed Hands of Freedom.

Jon and Swati Borde used to live in Minnesota. Now they live in India and run their nonprofit, which fo­cus­es on pro­vid­ing loans, ed­u­ca­tion and wells primarily to the poor­est peo­ple there.

Han­nah said she came to realize that “wells have a re­al­ly big im­pact on vil­lag­es in India. Once a well is placed, women can get jobs and kids can go to school.”

In India, many people don’t have access to clean water, which can result in disease and, in some cases, death.

The nonprofit has dug about 25 wells since it be­gan in 2008. Each can serve 10,000 peo­ple, Numainville said.

In the end, hav­ing clean wa­ter near­by gives women and chil­dren more time, al­low­ing them the chance to learn new skills and possibly lift them­selves out of pov­er­ty, Numainville said.

Pick­ing straw­berries

Han­nah originally want­ed to do­nate the $3,000 in her sav­ings ac­count to Hands of Freedom, but her par­ents urged her to earn the mon­ey so she could have a sense of how much it re­al­ly was.

Han­nah put a ther­mom­e­ter on the fridge to track her earn­ings, which went into a sepa­rate ac­count. She be­gan put­ting some of her al­low­ance and all of her baby-sitting mon­ey to­ward the well, along with Christ­mas and con­fir­ma­tion mon­ey.

There aren’t many jobs a 13-year-old can do le­gal­ly, but Han­nah found one she didn’t mind. Over the next two sum­mers, she worked at her ex­tend­ed fam­i­ly’s straw­ber­ry farm in Monticello, pick­ing ber­ries, help­ing cus­tom­ers and staff­ing the check­out area.

“I would al­ways think, if I would have a tough day at the straw­ber­ry farm, I can sac­ri­fice a little bit of my mon­ey for peo­ple who don’t even have bas­ic ne­ces­sities like wa­ter,” she said.

The pro­ject con­tinues to af­fect the fam­i­ly’s outlook. Now, they com­pare the costs of cer­tain items they want to how much it costs to build a well, said Mary Enck, her mother.

For in­stance, Han­nah re­al­ized that three years of hav­ing a smartphone would add up to $3,000 and de­cid­ed she didn’t re­al­ly need one, Mary Enck said.

While Han­nah will con­tin­ue to sup­port Hands of Freedom, she said she prob­a­bly won’t do an­oth­er big pro­ject un­til she’s saved more mon­ey for col­lege.

Han­nah, who also plays golf, swims and is on the lead­er­ship team at high school, said that when she re­ceived the photo of the women by the well, she knew her efforts had paid off. She “could re­al­ly see their lives chan­ging for the bet­ter,” she said.

She has some ad­vice for others who want to do a char­i­ta­ble pro­ject: “Choose an or­gan­i­za­tion that you re­al­ly be­lieve in and want to sup­port, and do some­thing you en­joy to earn the mon­ey.”

 

Erin Ad­ler • 952-746-3283

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