While most of us spend our Sundays like it’s nobody’s business, this octogenarian is out there making a difference. This man from Mumbai has hired a plumber and is going door to door, fixing leaking taps free of cost.
In India, over 76 Million people don’t have access to safe water. Even more disturbing, is the fact that 20 to 50 per cent of the water supplied to Indian cities is lost in transit; courtesy of poorly maintained infrastructure.
“If I can, you can”, says Aabid Surti- A renowned writer, painter, and cartoonist. Even with his hands full, this hero sets out every Sunday along with a plumber and a volunteer. Their mission is simple- fix every leaky faucet in the neighbourhood free of cost.
A Mission to Save 1,000 litres of Water
Mr. Surti came across a newspaper report in 2007 which made him want to do something about leaking taps. The article stated that if one drop of water fell from a tap per second, it meant that each month 1,000 litres went down the drain.
Although Mr. Surti belonged to a well-to-do family, he grew up on the pavements as they’d lost everything. On reading the article, he was reminded of the time when his mother had to wake up at 4 am every day, just to collect a bucket of water.
Memories of his childhood, when he saw “people fight for each drop”, kept haunting him as he knew he had to do something about it.
Saving 4.14 lakh litres of water!
While his conscience kept eating away at him, Mr. Surti noticed that people were least bothered about their leaking taps. When he got to the root of it, he found out that most families couldn’t afford the services of a plumber which approximately cost $5 irrespective of the damage. Therefore, people let the water drip until the leakage became severe.
To combat this, Mr. Surti formed a non-profit organisation named ‘Drop Dead Foundation’ in 2007. He started the NGO with the aim of fixing leaking taps and making people aware of the negative effects of wasting water.
Within the first year of the NGO’s inception, Mr. Surti had:
- Visited 1666 houses
- Fixed 414 leaking taps for free, and
- Saved about 4.14 lakh litres of water from going to the gutter
Not just Conserving water, Spreading awareness too
The Mission of saving water begins every Monday with Mr. Surti meeting apartment complex managers. He explains to them the purpose of his visit and takes permission to visit each apartment on the following Sunday.
On Saturday, pamphlets about his NGO are slipped underneath the doors of each apartment to make families aware of his visit.
Every Sunday, Mr. Surti sets out with a plumber and a volunteer to continue the rest of their mission. During their visits, the trio not only aims to fix leaks but also make families aware of ways to conserve water.
Paying expenses out of his own Pocket
Initially, Mr. Surti would only head out for his mission with a plumber, however, the door was generally answered by women. Often times, the women slammed the door on their faces thinking that they had ulterior motives. On witnessing this, Mr. Surti came up with the idea of taking along a woman volunteer which ultimately made the mission a lot simpler.
Since Mr. Surti pays the expenses out of his own pocket, the next challenge ultimately boils down to finances. This factor too didn’t deter the hero from doing his work. He says, “When you honestly set out to do good work, the entire universe is there to back you. Not only that, God becomes your fund raiser.”
Apart from this, Mr. Surti also faced disapproval of his friends and family when he initially started working on this mission.
From roaming door-to-door to Meeting Amitabh Bachchan
- Over the years, Mr. Surti’s team has helped save several Million litres of water.
- Families which earlier looked at his team with suspicion, have now become his friends.
- Mr. Surti was invited by Megastar Amitabh Bachchan on his TV show where the actor donated Rs. 1.1 Million to his NGO.
- Mr. Surti has begun receiving offers from other organizations.
- Apart from these accolades, Mr. Surti has written 80 books, 7 plays, hosted 16 painting exhibitions, and created famous comic characters like Dabbuji and Bahadur.
- He is also the recipient of a National Award for Teesri Aankh-his short story collection.
“If I can, you can”
If you’re inspired by Mr. Surti’s story and want to support his cause, he has the perfect offer for you!
He says, “If someone wants to start something anywhere, he or she can contact me. What I do is give all the online help I can. I send them my poster designs, pamphlets, stickers, etc. I tell them to print these, delete my address and put their own address and details. It’s not a franchise. It is copyright free. It is your baby. You know, I am not publicizing myself. I am publicizing the mission.”